Low Fat, VitD and Stephanie Seneff

Before I get to Is the metabolic syndrome caused by a high fructose, and relatively low fat, low cholesterol diet?  I thought I'd share a bit about the lead author Stephanie Seneff.  I don't usually look much into the authors of papers and such unless something seems off in the bias/advocacy/etc. area.   Seneff did in this case.  Although Seneff has a biology background, she hasn't been working in that field so I thought it odd that the first author on such a paper was a PhD in Electrical Engineering.  The second author is described as an independent reader of research, which I suppose would be like me?!,  and the third an Italian doctor.   An interesting mix!

One gets a little insight on Seneff when you read her blog a bit.   Clearly her interests lie in gestational and early childhood development area, but I'm also picking up on a feminist angle advocating for acceptance of more body fat on women and not the hyper-lean, model-thin bodies that became more socially accepted in the 70's.  I can't disagree there, but there's a huge disconnect.  No doubt there are some women so concerned over their pencil-thin figures who may have irreparably harmed their unborn children eating a too-low fat diet and such.  However I do not get how this translates to the population as a whole and how this leads to Metabolic Syndrome, etc.  Especially since those women aren't the ones presenting with MetSyn.  I can't get over the reality that on the whole it is Americans who are not following governmental advice and eating "healthy diets" that present left and right with MetSyn. 

More disturbing, however, is how Seneff, according to her bio, "returned to her biology roots" to revisit human metabolism and physiology.  She didn't go back to the textbooks or to current peer review research.  No ...  sigh ... instead she learned from Gary Taubes.   
First, I would like to recommend a great book, Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes [7], for those who want to seriously examine the issues of diet and health. Most of what is written in this section was gleaned from reading that book, although I have added a few embellishments, based on my own reasoning. The main message of the book is that our country has been grossly misled into believing that a low fat diet is a healthy diet. This message is now so thoroughly entrenched that it is nearly impossible to overturn. While his main focus was on diets that would be effective for weight loss, he also argued persuasively that a high fat diet (or at least a low-carb, high-quality fat diet) is a healthy sustainable nutritional practice even when you're not trying to lose weight. He advocates a diet that eliminates as much as possible refined sugars (white sugar) and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and pasta.
The biggest problem with these foods is that they are digested too easily. This causes a spike in the blood sugar level which in turn causes the pancreas to get into high gear, overproducing more than enough insulin to break down these sugars, so that they can be stored by the liver as glycogen for future energy needs. One consequence is that the insulin receptors become increasingly less responsive to insulin, leading over time to type II diabetes: an inability to efficiently utilize insulin. Diabetes is easily diagnosed by measuring the levels of sugar in the urine, because the excess sugar that was not broken down due to insufficient insulin eventually is excreted by the kidneys as waste material.
I have yet to see any academic work that says the emphasized statement above.  This is what is so insidious about TWICHOO.  It was all a hypothesis, and this part of the hypothesis came from whole Neels reduction that anything that stimulates insulin eventually leads to insulin resistance.  That is just wrong as decades of research post 1985 have demonstrated.    Knowing what I know now about Seneff, that this is what formed the basis of her understanding that lead to the current hypothesis about fructose (interestingly enough Taubes' latest kick) and cholesterol deficiency causing MetSyn, I am not sure it was worth bothering to look much further into the study.  But I'd already done that and written it up.   See you in a bit!


bentleyj74 said…
"I'm also picking up on a feminist angle advocating for acceptance of more body fat on women and not the hyper-lean, model-thin bodies that became more socially accepted in the 70's."

No kidding...I mean...everywhere I look there's nothing for miles around but women with single digit body fat. In fact it is becoming positively common for young women to experience delayed onset of puberty. Heck, some of them are even 9 before they start cycling nowadays.
bentleyj74 said…
Although to make it interesting we could look at the feminist angle and examine what happens to very young girls [generally at the hands of much older men] when they look like women but aren't. A lower body fat which results in a "delayed" puberty might mean that more of them graduate high school before filing their first paternity affidavit.
Dawn said…
Bentley, I don't know whether to laugh or cry reading your comments. Both, I guess.
ProudDaddy said…
I'm guessing your opinion of her cholesterol sulphate deficiency theory of CVD is not as high as it could be. I've been meaning to ask you if the mechanisms she describes have any real basis in fact at all.
bentleyj74 said…

If you browse her website you'd probably go with laugh, I'm still conflicted though. Her position on body fat is a disordered train wreck with a sprinkle of pseudo feminism on top but in trying to have it both ways what she is actually clearly asserting is that children/teenage girls are in danger of not being found sexually attractive by adult MEN if they eat low fat.
Sanjeev said…
accuracy of public perception about attractiveness and men's sexual desire may be a bit off the mark


there are a lot of caveats of course. The biggest for me is I don't know how these guys correct for (or whether they're even interested in) partner selection versus stimulation-seeking. I'll have to get the book eventually.

I'm still not clear that advertising that includes the skinny models has anything to do with men but everything to do with what the advertising's target market perceives men want, and that perception, like a lot of human perception, may be very, very wrong.

excerpt form that article:
As far as men’s interest in pornography goes, what of your findings were actually surprising? Because a lot of it — like the interest in large breasts — is totally expected.

I’ll give you the top three. No. 1 is that men prefer overweight women to underweight women. There are almost three times as many searches for fat women as there are for skinny women, and lest you think that’s some way we treated the search data, this is also reflected in popularity on adult sites. There are many more video sites devoted to overweight women than underweight women. Now, I should say as a caveat that men prefer healthy weight women overall. But if the choice is between a woman with a few extra pounds or a few less pounds, most guys will choose more pounds.
Josh said…
the journal that the article was published in also sounds a little odd. "Archives of Medical Science (AMS) publishes high quality original papers, case reports and short communications prepared especially by young scientists from all over the world. It is a peer-reviewed journal with international Editorial Board. The second aim of AMS is to present best educational manuscripts written by experienced scientists (reviews, letters to Editor, editorials and research papers) to make this Journal even more interesting for young doctors." I guess the anti-conventional wisdom stuff is popular with the young'uns.
ProudDaddy said…
One word: rubenesque.
Lerner said…
Josh, maybe it's like MTV for LCers :) or even Paleohacks

also, the rates for vanity publishing seem comparatively inexpensive: "...there is an obligatory charge (=300 Euro) for the manuscript being accepted for publication in Archives of Medical Science journal...".

The 'impact ratings' are here: http://www.termedia.pl/Journal/-19 but I don't know offhand the scale that they're based on.
Lerner said…
I remember Seneff's name because I somehow ended up at a video interview with her (by Mercola, no less). It seems that, yes, sulfur cures everything - and lack thereof causes everything bad.

IIRC, lipoproteins are supposedly also a major part of the immune system. Who knows, anything is possible but these people rarely have any real evidence for 'defying the conventional' - only conjecture that they seemingly hope makes them famous and admired... like their inevitable hero Gary what's-his-name.

P.S. I do own some MSM.
LeonRover said…
Or even Reubenesque - for e.g. Ms Leona Helmsley.
Swede said…

I had to look that up. Very appropriate!
Lesley Scott said…
@Lerner I take MSM as well. It seems to make cuts & scars diminish somehow. That could be the placebo effect, but I'll take.
Lerner said…
thanks for that mention, FTD. I got it myself for joints, but I've always been slow to heal from cuts, etc. Even from exercise. It's worth a shot to try it regularly for a little while... plus, I've been craving cabbage.
Sanjeev said…
that Mercola interview is truly disturbing ... from all the BS that even I managed to catch I'd guess a real expert could play whack a mole for days trying to knock down or pop all the frothy bubbles that rise up out of that greasy, gassy cr*p.
Anonymous said…
About being too thin and metabolic syndrome: Isn't there a "thin" PCOS? Example when a woman's body fat gets low to the point that she stops ovulating, isn't that considered a form of PCOS with the same hormonal problems (including insulin resistance) as regular PCOS? Or is this another low-carb delusion?
Adel Moussa said…
Wrt to Mrs. Seneff, I agree that the things she reiterates from Taubes and other people is still the same bunk as it was when it was originally written by those folks, but the way Mrs. Seneff brought sulfur back on the scene is quite interesting. I suggest you discard her other work and focus on that one > the of sulfur / sulfation in health and disease

you can start with either

* role in satiety > http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2479932
* thyroid hormone metabolism > http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8404588
* estrogen metabolism > http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15070945
* and tons of other stuff
Lerner said…

"...at least half of women diagnosed with PCOS are of normal weight or lean. Some women with PCOS are even underweight.

While insulin resistance is generally thought to be the underlying cause of most cases of PCOS, there is disagreement in the medical community about whether thin women with PCOS suffer from the same degree of insulin resistance as their heavier counterparts."
CarbSane said…
Well, I don't know if she can be credited for that or not, but she seems to be equating all sulfur, in the WAPF article I linked to in the Odds and Ends post, she talks about high sulfur amino acids protecting against ionizing radiation and cysteine which has a -SH -- how does that equate to SO4-2 ions in your links? I'm not aware of metabolism of amino acids to somehow harvest the sulfur atoms they contain to make sulfate ions. She also talked about sulfur and drinking water and Hawaii and Oregon both of which have sulfur rich environments. But Hawaii's obesity problems are somehow possibly due to getting more food from the mainland where S is depleted, but Oregon has the lowest obesity rates -- where are they getting their food if not from the mainland??

For all the VitD stuff, you'd think everyone was deficient and walking around on the verge of cellular explosion. I went to look at what the incidence of deficiency is. "At risk for" is not "deficient". The rates for children presenting at the ER in Alberta Canada were <6% if memory serves. And one might imagine that if anything this population should be enriched in VitD deficient if anything.

I do agree with one thing she says which is that the fat tissue of obese hoards VitD. But this seems to support obesity -> deficiency, not the other way around.
robrob said…
if you bothered to read all her articles and her slide presentation you would understand it better. I have been following her advice for over a year or more and I am starting to see my a1c come down, my insatiable appetite tone down quite a bit, my levels of energy and exercise response improve, sleeping more through the night (before I would suffer terrible hypoglycemic symtpoms in the middle of the night for like 10 years or more) she is saying nutritional deficiency like vita d, calcium, cholesterol sulfate which is almost vita d so close it is hard to tell the difference unless your a chemist, which causes glucose intolerance (inability to use sugar properly) and high carb (translated to much hitting the blood to soon) and also low fat which translates into the body will now have to perpetuate fat cells so it can make the fat your not eating and handle and hoard all those nutrients you are falling to low to often on and manage all the sugar not being used.

correct me if I am wrong but i get the impression you people did not read the articles thoroughly or look up the references given. maybe glanced over it to find fault maybe? not sure.

CarbSane said…
Welcome Rose -- I understand it just fine, I and the science disagrees with her. How to explain the myriad cultures who thrive on single digit percents fat -- waaaay less than most "low fat" diets.
Puddleg said…
"I'm not aware of metabolism of amino acids to somehow harvest the sulfur atoms they contain to make sulfate ions."

It's called the transulfuration pathway, an alternative to taurine or glutathione in cysteine metabolism.
Puddleg said…
How to explain? Cholesterol. If you'd read the paper. But I thought the Kitavans were supposed to be the "low fat" glamour boys and they're hardly "single digits", indeed Kitavan diet is called "high SFA" in our sad state of affairs.

Throw in high linoleate, let it percolate into cell membranes over a few years, and you have an increased demand for hepatic cholesterol production to feed the extra LDL-R and keep the cellular integrity.
(parent PUFA only decreases SERUM cholesterol- it increases hepatic cholesterol production and total body content).

Factor that into the scenario in the paper (high fructose and carb, low dietary cholesterol) and it will intensify it. I don't know about IR (who does) but I would expect NASH or gallstones.
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