Did Chris Kresser Plagiarize Perfect Health Diet for his Healthy Baby Code?


I present here, the unequivocal evidence that the answer to the question posed in the post title is "Yes".  

If I were the author of the book Chris Kresser cribbed from, I'd be hopping mad.  This is a very big deal.    I'm also under no delusions that this will amount to much of anything in the Incestral Health Community (the IHC), because Fonzi is in the air!  (Will Sisson selling reverse cave leveraging plans be far behind?)  But you never know.   

Plagiarism in general is serious business.  Heck, I hear colleges are even still willing to expel students over the charge (used to be virtually automatic).   What Chris Kresser did was copy the central tenets of The Perfect Health Diet, and pass them of as his own in The Healthy Baby Code -- a $197 multi-media package.   Of this there can be no doubt ... because he copied erroneous material!

{ASIDE:  I don't know if folks reading this truly appreciated the genius that was Seth Yoder's exposé of plagiarism:  FAT IN THE DIET AND MORTALITY FROM HEART DISEASE: A PLAGIARISTIC NOTE.  The main point was not listing all the incidents of plagiarism -- of copying Gary Taubes' words regarding Ancel Keys, the infamous Six Countries Plot, and Yerushalmy & Hilleboe's critique.  The reason it is so obviously plagiarism is that the copycats copied Taubes' mistakes.    It is the one sure way to catch a cheater.  The more unique a "mistake" is to the original source, the more obvious the plagiarism.}

The Plagiarism:

Below is a screen shot of pages 1 & 2 of Module Two of Chris Kresser's Healthy Baby Code (link in screenshot)

Sound familiar?  Compare with this excerpt from Perfect Health Diet: Four Steps to Renewed Health, Youthful Vitality, and Long Life (Kindle Locations 246-247). YinYang Press. Kindle Edition. 

There's NO doubt this is a flat out copy.   The HBC is not referenced, and since the modules are transcripts of videos, written in pure fad diet book fashion, there's no reason that it necessarily need be.  But, Kresser does recite a number of "facts" that are specific enough that they should be referenced.  But whether or not the Four Reasons of the PHD are Paul Jaminet's original thoughts, he was the one who put them together as the premise for the diet he constructed.  What we have here are the same four reasons, in the same order.  

 Let's juxtapose these another way.  PHD is green, HBC in blue.  The first reason is nothing original to either, but taken together with the other three is plenty damning.
Kresser's paraphrasing could use a brush up as well.   The last sentence would raise the eyebrow of even a less-than-diligent teacher.  Evolution optimized our biology for this diet.   Hmmmm...  Reason two is one I've seen somewhere before I read PHD, but is pretty "attached" to Paul in the IHC.  Chris does alter the numbers ever so slightly.

The third reason is truly oddball.  I had to cobble together the three green-starred excerpts from the section on fats so as to match this up with Kresser's, but of all of the rationales for a diet, this one is uniquely strange.  Paul is saying that we "eat ourselves" when we fast, therefore we should consume macros in the same proportions.  Nevermind that we "eat" glycogen and fat stores (both locally stored and stored in the liver and adipose tissue respectively) and break down tissues for amino acids when forced.   If we cannibalized the body in any sort of proportional way, breaking down and burning entire cells, we'd die of organ failure in fairly short order.  

But notice that Kresser doesn't really provide any reason for giving you the proportions of fat to protein, his main point is that saturated fat is clean burning, non-toxic at high doses, and the preferred fuel for mitochondria.  As you can see, points all made by Jaminet.   Another tsk tsk for Kresser for failing to copy accurately ... he forgot the MUFA!

So now we arrive at the silly thing that crawled up my whattsitz and sent me down the interpreting studies trail.   Number Four!   There I was immersed in LCHF for infants and restricting carbohydrates for babies to keep them from being fat -- always going hand in hand with the "fat can't/doesn't make you fat" nonsense -- and up pops this weird reference to the preferences of mice.

I discussed the studieS used to support this point here:  Perfect Health Diet Macronutrient Ratios ~ Part II: Omnivores Prefer These Ratios.  From that post, 
  • When 13 strains of mice were allowed ad libitum access to purified macronutrients, they chose a range of macronutrient intakes.  One strain failed to eat enough protein, and all but one of the remaining strains consumed under 5% of protein.  Fat intake ranged from 25% to 85%.
  • The percentage weight gain of these mice was tightly correlated with the percentage of dietary fat selected.
  • Within the two strains selecting the highest fat diet, total fat intake correlated significantly with fat mass.
  • In the second study a 14th strain and a BAT knockout version of that strain were fed standard chow or purfied macronutrients.  These mice chose a very high fat intake, the knockout mice chose an even higher fat intake.
  • The normal mice on either diet and the transgenic mice on a standard diet gained roughly the same amount of weight.  The transgenic mice, who progressively avoided carbohydrate even more -- to where by the end they ate virtually none -- developed delayed obesity.  
  • All additional weight gained by the transgenic mice on the very high fat was fat.  
In paraphrasing Paul's misinterpretation of these studies in favor of a high fat diet, Kresser mangles things beyond recognition.  The mice eating 85% of their diets as fat were the transgenic mice who got obese.   

Chris Kresser just got caught cheating by repeating Paul Jaminet's errors.

The Healthy Baby Code includes a Resources file with links to helpful blogs and books for information and recipes.  Paul's website is linked to and described as shown:

Gee.  I wonder why.  I'd say that since the publication of  The Perfect Health Diet obviously predates The Healthy Baby Code, this should be reworded:  "The Healthy Baby Code is copied from closely mirrors The Perfect Health Diet".

The Thin Air ...

When I read Chris Kresser's Your Personal Paleo Code, I was rather taken aback by his rationale for the macro composition of this paleo template thing.  He had told me back in 2012 that his HBC was not low carb.  The Masai are mentioned  in PPC as a high fat tribe which helps justify his recommendations for a high fat diet.  I also recalled a couple of mentions of the Masai for their pre-conception diets in PPC.  All of which is rather interesting, because the Masai are not hunter gatherers, and their dairy consumption far exceeds the modest recommendations in Code that earned Kresser a place atop Cordain's Special Agent hit list.

Then I recalled that in 2011 Kresser was peddling another special "code":  The Healthy Baby Code.   This is a $197 package aimed at women trying to get pregnant through nourishing their infant offspring.   Back in 2011 it was widely affiliate marketed -- including by Jimmy Moore as "we're following this", during their failed embryo adoption -- and although you can still buy the program, Chris Kresser himself no longer actively markets the product on the front page of his website.  While this is a "cut-off" screenshot of his website as of 7-3-2015, there are no further product ads further down the page.

You'll see that for paperback, the "Code" is now a "Cure" ... sigh! ... But to the point of this post I find it most ironic that Chris is using "Perfect Health" these days as a phrase.  Sure, Paul Jaminet doesn't own that per se, but ...

So I was tracking down -- or trying to anyway -- the paleo baby stuff, so I inquired after this HBC on social media in the hopes that Kresser's professed 1000s of hours of research might have unearthed a primary reference or two to liver suckling babies and the like.    Well, I didn't find that.  Basically HBC is a rehash of the WAPF guidelines for pregnant and nursing mothers, and he also references their homemade formulas while cautioning against the liver-based one out of concern for its iron content.   I covered that here.   I still find it unconscionable for Kresser to know about just the iron issue in the liver formula from WAPF, mention WAPF in his program and speak at their conferences, but do nothing to correct a potentially toxic situation.  

The Problem Besides Plagiarism ...

To close here, I want to stress why this is important aside from the legality and propriety of it all.    This is a program for women who want to get pregnant, have healthy pregnancies, give birth to healthy children and nourish those children to survive and thrive.    In Module Two, where the above copycatting goes on, Kresser prefaces the discussion with the usual paleoriffic lies:
Throughout the vast majority of evolutionary history, in most cases fat was between 50 and 80 percent of calories. Protein was between 10 and 30 percent of calories, and carbohydrate intake was between 5 and 35 percent of calories. There are some notable exceptions to these guidelines, but in general these were the historical ratios. Both history and modern evidence suggest the ideal ratio for fertility and pregnancy, and for everybody else for that matter, is a high-fat, low-to-moderate carb and moderate-protein diet.
Kresser likes to wear a doctor's coat, talk about his clinical experience treating patients, etc.  He is not a doctor, but he likes to play one on the internet.  He's a licensed acupuncturist and internet markeTEER.  

When Chris gets something right, go look to the original source, and realize he just co-opted it.  It seems that's quite often the case whether he's right or wrong.  In this case he gets a lot wrong ... but he had help.

What's wrong with the nutrition advice in this program?  Mostly, it lacks substantial precedent or evidenciary support.   Some of these topics fit in with the BabyGate series, so I'll address those in context when they come up in a dedicated post.  Yes, I do realize this was 2011, but Kresser only nominally relaxed his endorsement for high fat diets in Personal Paleo Code.  I've repeated this a lot here on this blog, but the onus is on the Kressers of this world to "bring it" in terms of solid evidence for the healthfulness of the "alternative" diets they promote.

But this is extra important with the mothers here.  You are telling people how critical nutrition is in these times of life.  And I agree.  And you are also telling people lies about how they should eat.   I strongly object.

It may not be the only concern of women, but let's be honest, gaining weight -- enough, but not too much -- is a point of major concern. Kresser goes on about how we've essentially been lied to about dietary fat and getting fat, etc.  Well, then, I think it matters A LOT, that the high fat mice DID get fat.  He tells women to eat fat to get pregnant, eat fat to nourish their growing infant, eat fat while lactating, and yes, even the kidlet should eat fat.  His recommendations for the infant are not nearly Bubba Yuck Yuck extreme, but they are a worthy of a few red flags.

When Kresser speaks of traditional cultures and baby-making, he mostly means one tribe:  the Masai.  The warrior class Masai males may have eaten an animal food diet for that phase, but there is even significant conflict in the record of what the milk to meat to blood ratios (and thus macros) were for these men.  We also know that the women (and children!) did absolutely not habitually consume a high fat diet.  Indeed I've shown quite the opposite.  They are also practically starved during the last trimester (for fear of crushing the baby and/or of having a difficult birth ... this is especially ironic given Kresser's "oops there it is" description of ancestral birthing in HBC), and only about half the infants survive. When I get the time I have numerous, freely accessible (or I will make them accessible), primary references and/or governmental agency reports describing a variety of traditional fertility, pregnancy and lactation practices around the globe ... the Masai and others.  I include the one below because the image is handy.

The story these legitimate accounts tell is far different than Chris Kresser's Fables would have you believe.    In the end, you will find as traditions and taboos against various "superfoods" as you will do for.  Just one example being this magic fertility milk the Masai women are drinking to get pregnant.  The Kikuyu tribe forbids reproductive age women from consuming any dairy, as it is thought to interfere with fertility.  The Kikuyu -- often described as malnourished vegetarians -- for what it is worth, are known for being more fertile than the Masai, something I'll expand upon in fully referenced style if you'll grant me a bit of patience.

It's time for Chris Kresser to work on that Professional Moral Code.