Dr. Michael Klaper:
"Nutrition For Optimum Health"
Michael Klaper, MD
Dr. Michael Klaper:
Medicine has been fascinating to me because it constantly teaches me something if I'm open to it. Back in the 1850's the German philosopher, Goethe said, "what you know about you see." In other words, once you know about something you start seeing it everywhere and this is certainly true about medicine and it is certainly true when it comes to nutrition and I want to increase your viewing of things that you may know about so you start seeing things differently, especially when it comes time to order your next meal in a restaurant or when you are pushing your cart down the supermarket isles trying to decide what to bring home for dinner.
My nutritional awakening began when I was on the cardiovascular anesthesia service, and that's the service that deals with people's hearts and blood vessels. And one evening I was making rounds to see a patient who was scheduled for a four-vessel coronary by-pass several days hence and the man had been out on a day-pass with his family before surgery, quite a common practice. He had returned to the hospital rather late and the nurse notified me that there were several blood tests that were missing off his chart that we needed to repeat and so she asked if I would draw blood on the man, which I happily did. And I drew some of his blood into a glass tube and I brought it to the nurse's station and I let it sit there while I got busy with some work in the ward and an hour and a half latter I went back to the nurse's station to take the blood tube down to the laboratory, and what I saw in the blood tube gave me a rude awakening.
When you draw blood into a glass tube and allow it to sit there for a couple of hours, it separates out into two parts.
Here is normal blood on the left and you see the red clot on the bottom and the clear liquid serum has risen up to the top. The serum should be transparent, you should be able to see through normal serum. However, the blood in my patient's tube looked very different. The serum that was floating on top of his clot was thick and greasy white, it looked like ivory glue when I shook the tube, the serum stuck to the sides of the tube. I went back into the room. I said, "Sir, before you came back to the hospital tonight, did you stop off anywhere from dinner?" He said, "Yes" I said, "Where?" and he said he had stopped at his local gourmet restaurant and he had his usual fare, and I said, "What did you have?"
"Well I had a double-bacon steerburger' with extra cheese and a milkshake, " a common offering at such institutions. And at that point when he said that, I realized what I was looking at in his blood tube. What was all the floating on top of his blood tube, what was floating on top of his blood tube was all the beef-fat in the burger, it was all the butterfat in the cheese, it was the butterfat in the ice-cream, it was the egg yoke fat that was in the mayonnaise that was slathered on the bun. All the fat that this man had eaten had oozed out into his bloodstream and turned his blood fatty. This is a well known phenomenon, it is called lipima and it happens every time you eat a fatty meal, a wave of fat goes through your bloodstream. Not everybody shows it this optically densely, but everyone has a wave of fat going through their bloodstream after a fatty meal, how can it be any other way?
There's an old saying, "out of sight, out of mind" Might be out of sight, might be out of your mind, it's certainly not out of your bloodstream after such a meal. Your body is never "not looking" okay, there's no fooling your body, you can't tell your body, "Look over there!" and then have a cheeseburger and "what was that, what was that?" you know. Your body knows exactly what you eat and your bloodstream, your liver has to deal with everything you eat and the consequences of each meal build up day after day, month after month, year after year. The face you see looking in the mirror is the result of the decisions you've made throughout your life. Should I eat this, should I not eat that, should I smoke this, should I not smoke that, should I drink this, should I not drink this. Health is not something the doctor can apply to you like calamine lotion, health is something you do on a daily basis and making wise decisions at the dinner table is one of the best things you can do to assure your health.
I went back to my patient and discussed a bit about his dinner, but there was not much to say because the fat was already in his blood. What was especially disturbing to me however, was several days latter we took him down to the operating room. I gave the man a thousand micrograms of pheontonel and put him to sleep, and the surgeon opened up his chest and opened up his coronary arteries, and from this man's coronary arteries he began pulling yellow, greasy, waxy, fatty deposits that look like this:
What you are looking at is the plug of fat that built up in a man's right coronary artery. The artery was a tube coming out at you from the screen. The artery wall has been cut away and you are looking at the plug of fat that built up. The fat started out at the outer edges of the artery wall and as the months and years go by of these repeated tides of fat flowing through the arteries, the fat starts building up on the inside of the arteries like scale builds up in the inside of a hot water pipe. And as the months and years went by the fat crowded in and crowded in on his blood flow channel till finally only the small dark area was left for the blood to flow through and when a clot formed here it stopped the blood flow the his heart, stopped his heart and bought him a ticket to the autopsy table. This is the number one cause of death in western societies. In North America every thirty seconds someone grabs their chest and falls over with a heart attack because this greasy material is clogging up arteries to their heart. This disease is called atherosclerosis, the number one cause of death and disease in western societies.
This material is quite remarkable. When you send it down to the pathologist and you ask him to do a chemical analysis the report always comes back the same, saturated fat and cholesterol, essentially it's animal fat. The report from the pathologist never, ever, ever contains the words remnants of broccoli, rice and tofu. The good news is this stuff will melt away. If you clean up your diet and start taking a walk everyday, and get rid of some of the stress that builds up within you, this is a reversible disease and will melt away.
I want to tell you some things about this process so you can make better choices when it comes time to decide what your going to have for lunch or for dinner. Here's a simple analogy from clinical medicine.
This is a rather famous curve in medicine called the glucose tolerance curve and it just says if you give someone a hundred grams of glucose, that's a sugary drink and they swallow it. Sugar is a very small molecule. It moves into the bloodstream very rapidly, within a half an hour the blood sugar goes up to a 170 0r 180 milligrams, but immediately the pancreas senses the sugar in the blood, it puts out insulin and the blood sugar comes down fairly rapidly and by two hours and certainly three hours the blood sugar should be back to normal again. This is not the case with fats in your diet. Fats are a much larger molecule and they move into the bloodstream much more slowly and they come out of the bloodstream much more slowly. If you eat a fatty meal and have someone draw blood on you every hour for the next six hours and you look at those six blood tubes, you will see them becoming milkier, and milkier, and milkier as the fat moves into the bloodstream. In fact if you take those six tubes and you put them into an instrument that measures how milky the serum is becoming, that instrument is called a spectrophotometer, you will generate a milkiness index. It's called the Lactescence index.
And here you see classic curve, someone has a bacon and egg breakfast say, and over the next 1,2,3,4,5 hours you see the blood becoming milkier and milkier as the fat moves in. This is a very significant time curve. With the sugar, the sugar was up and down within three hours. At 5 hours the fat is just reaching it's peak. This has grave consequences (pun intended), for people eating in the western dietary style. Let's take this same curve and let's extend it out throughout the day on someone who is eating in a standard western style and what you will generate is a figure that looks like this:
Lets say at breakfast time, a person has bacon and eggs and the fat moves into the bloodstream 9, 10, 11, 12 o'clock, 12:30 in the afternoon, the fat from breakfast is just reaching it's peak and what happens at 12:30?
Head off to our favorite fast-food restaurant and order our double-bacon steerburger' with extra cheese and another wave of fat goes through the bloodstream, 1,2,3,4,5, 6 o'clock in the evening the fat from lunch is just reaching it's peak, and what happens at 6 o'clock in the evening? If your a working person you may stop off at your favorite fried chicken institution on the way home and order some extra crispy thighs dipped in bacon grease and you take that home...
and another wave of fat goes through the bloodstream, 6,7,8,9, 10 o'clock at night the fat from dinner is just reaching it's peak, and what happens at 10 o'clock at night?
Usually one spouse turns to the other and says, "Dear, do you have any ice cream in the freezer?" and another wave of fat goes through the bloodstream. 10,11,12... 3 o'clock in the morning the fat from the snack is just reaching it's peak. The liver, the arteries are swimming with fat. The fat deposits out in the arteries, deposits out in your fat stores, finally it starts leaving the bloodstream and the fat level comes down in the bloodstream just as the dawn is breaking, just in time for the whole fatty circus to start all over again. And when we see the diseases that western human beings suffer from, the clogged arteries, the high blood pressure, the obesity, the diabetes, these are not random events. These are not curses from a wrathful god punishing us. These are the inevitable consequences of running fat through your bloodstream, hour after hour, day after day.
It's my humble assertion that the best way to lower your cholesterol is... stop eating it. Only animals make cholesterol. No plant makes cholesterol. And you have no metabolic requirement for animal products whatsoever. Let me underline that again. The human body, the very one your sitting in right now, has absolutely no nutritional requirements for the flesh of animals or for the milk of cows. When you are reversing heart disease, as you clean up your diet and this clogging starts melting away the blood flow will increase. Just a little regression in these plaques means a big increase in blood flow and that's why angina will go away so quickly, that's why people can walk further, that's why their blood pressures go down so quickly, it's one of the major reasons. There's another which I will share with you in a minute. But this gives you hope if you or a relative have clogged arteries. Rather than signing right up for that arteo surgery, it is certainly worth, if your life is not in immediate danger, to try a low-fat, pure vegetarian diet and a walking program and expect good things to happen because it usually does and quickly.
Here's another reason why people feel so good, so quickly. When you eat a fatty meal, imagine what happens to a red blood cell floating in all that fat.
Well, here you see it represented schematically. As the hours go by, blood cells get coated with fat. Here is a capillary, a tiny little blood vessel, let's say it's in your brain, or in your heart. As the blood cells that are carrying oxygen become coated with fat, they become stickier and they start sticking together and as a result the blood vessels start clogging up. We say there is slugging of the blood flow. It looks like at freeway a rush hour and the blood cells start moving slower and slower. You can see this through a microscope, these normally rapidly moving blood cells start moving very, very slowly. And that's why so many heart attacks happen after dinner, because the blood is flowing so thickly. Well, the good news is that if you consume foods that don't have a lot of fat, you can expect the blood to stay free-flowing and that's another reason why blood pressures go down, the heart doesn't have to pump this thick blood through the arteries. And so blood pressures go down and blood flows more free-flowing, and for that reason angina frequently goes away. All sorts of advantages happen as we eat less, and less fats.
I have been a physician for over twenty-two years. I have never admitted anyone to the coronary care unit with a diagnosis of olive oil embolism. We are talking about saturated animal fats. Some of the heavier, denser, saturated plant oils; palm oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, play a tiny role in contributing to this problem. But have no illusions, the majority of people suffering heart attacks and strokes, and the other diseases I showed you, are suffering largely from the large amount of animal-fats they have consumed.
Animal-fat also sticks to you. When you turn your blood fatty and that fatty blood goes through the fat stores underneath your skin, the fat deposits out there. This is not a random event. Those people who are angry because they are still carrying excess weight and they can't figure out why that fat is sticking there, they need to take an honest look at what is on their plate. As this person changes their diet, as they move toward lower fat, whole foods, whole grains, whole potatoes, whole fruits, whole vegetables, they become leaner. It certainly happened to me.
I began to change my diet and I felt if I do not run all this fat through my arteries, I'm going to be spared this problem, so I stopped eating meats and dairy products. I was concerned that I may not get enough protein or vitamin B-6, or vitamin B-2, so I checked my nutrition books to see what might possibly be a deficiency showing up, and it turns out that there is absolutely no nutrient, no vitamin, no mineral, no protein that is found in animal foods (in meats and dairy products) that can not be obtained out of plant-based foods, that includes vitamin B-12 and we'll be talking about that shortly.
So, as I went to more plant-based foods, I found a wonderful change happening. My cholesterol level fell sharply. My blood pressure, which had been slightly elevated, fell to normal levels. But most impressive to me, I had almost a 24 pound, that's, I guess almost a two stone spare tire around of fat around my waist, which I could not get rid of even though I was running five miles a day, within 12 weeks that 24 pounds of fat melted right away. I found myself waking up in a nice, lean light body. Even though I was eating tremendous amounts of Italian food, and Chinese food, and East Indian food, and Thai food, and potatoes, and pastas. I certainly did not deprive myself.
I highly recommend that at least half your diet be composed of fresh, live, uncooked fruits or vegetables. The more you cook food, the deader it gets. The more the vitamins are destroyed, the more the proteins denature, so a good general rule is make sure that half the food your eating on a given day, is food as grown. Lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh salads. Lightly steamed, 3 or 4 minutes in a vegetable steamer, but avoid overcooking and over processed foods.
What do you really need to run a human body?
You need six nutrients.
ENERGY- Comes from carbohydrates and fats. Those abound in grains, and legumes, and fruits and vegetables, and in the starches, and the oils.
PROTEIN- Abounds in grains and legumes, and green vegetables.
VITAMINS and MINERALS- To metabolize all these nutrients, are found in green and yellow vegetables.
WATER- And of course, water is freely available.
This is all you need to run a human body, and all of these are available in the plant foods that grow out of the ground.
We have the new four food groups these days, based upon whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits . And they will supply all your requirements for proteins, vitamins and minerals without burdening the body with extra fats.
All calories are not created equal. Calories are just units of heat measurement from physics class. It doesn't tell you rather those calories are coming from clean burning carbohydrates or stick to your waist fats.
Here's 300 calories in a stomach and you can see it doesn't take up very much room, it doesn't satisfy you very much after a meal. On the other hand, 300 calories of potatoes are going to fill your stomach right up and yet do it with very little fat and this is going to pass right on through. So when my patients want an extra helping of rice and vegetables, I'll say be all means, go ahead and don't even worry about how many calories are on your plate. Again, what was sticking to that obese man's abdomen was not rice and vegetables, it was all of the fat he had eaten. So, go ahead and enjoy the whole foods, without undue concern for calories.
I will no longer drink the milk from cows nor consume products made from that milk. Cow's milk is a superbly engineered fluid that will turn a 65 pound calf into a 500 pound cow in a year. That is what cow's milk is for.
Unfortunately, it often has that same effect on human beings. And people who are trying to get themselves leaner and they are still consuming dairy products, should have an honest look at this fluid. Even if the fat is extracted, even if you are eating low-fat cheeses and low-fat yogurts, there are still many substances in cow's milk that clearly cause problems when they're entered into the human system. Cow's milk has bovine proteins in it. It has casein and a whole number of cow proteins, that when these proteins get out into the bloodstream, and they do. They flow through joint membranes, in some people can cause rheumatoid arthritis to flare up. When these cow proteins flow through bronchial membranes, can cause asthma to get worse.
Bovine proteins are notorious for setting off inflammatory reactions throughout the body. Not only are there bovine proteins, but cow's milk rather it is skimmed off of it's fat or not, has lactose sugar which many people can not digest and it gives them cramps and diarrhea when they consume cow's milk products. Cow's milk products also contain substantial amounts of pesticides and herbicides, which have been sprayed on the feed grains and then fed to the cows, these are all deposited in the milk. Cows are fed large amounts of antibiotics to keep the cows from getting infections and these are frequently found in commercial cow's milk.
Whole milk is filled with artery clogging fat, allergenic proteins, indigestible milk sugars, antibiotics, herbicides, pesticides, and... cow pus. It's enough to make me not want to pour it on my cereal. I don't want to eat cheese made from it. I will do anything to avoid dairy products. I will pour soy milk on my cereal, I'll pour rice milk on my cereal, I'll pour apple juice on my cereal, I'll pour anything except cow's milk on my cereal.
When my patients come in with rheumatoid arthritis or asthma, the very first dietary maneuver I do is ask them to pull the dairy products out of their diet and I am repeatedly amazed how quickly so many of these symptoms resolve with the simple expedient of removing cow's milk from the diet.
There's a lot of other sources of calcium than cow's milk. I mean where to cows get their calcium? Think about it, cows do not drink milk. Where do they get all that calcium? Well they get it from green plants of course. Green plants are loaded with calcium and so are grains, and nuts, and seeds, and fruits and vegetables. The plant kingdom has lots of calcium available. You certainly don't have to drink the milk of a cow any more than the milk of a giraffe, or the milk of a horse. And I submit to you that many health problems you have may well respond after the removal of dairy products from your diet.
The high protein content of animal products, when is metabolized, it leaves a lot of acids in the body, sulfur and sulfuric acids, and these acids have many detrimental effects, the chief one of being that these acids help calcium dissolve out of the bones. It's one of the major contributing factors to osteoporosis. The tremendous amounts of chicken and fish, and high protein diets that so many of us consume, even though we may be eating less red meat. When I ask my, especially my female patients, what are you eating these days? It comes back, chicken and fish, chicken and fish, chicken and fish, chicken and fish, chicken and fish, I think it's one food, it's chicken and fish. What are we having for dinner tonight dear? Oh, we're having chicken and fish, oh good, make mine medium rare.
You are not doing yourself a favor, if you think, well, this is lower fat food. It looks white, it's not red and bloody, it looks white, so it's cleaner. Kid yourself not, animal muscle is animal muscle. It doesn't matter if it flaps a wing or moves a shoulder, or wiggles a tail, animal muscle is essentially the same stuff from species to species, it all contains essentially identical amounts of protein, fat, and very little carbohydrates and lots of cholesterol.
They've done studies where they have taken people eating red meats and changed them to eating chicken and fish and their cholesterol levels did not drop a wit. There's no reason that it should, all you've done is changed the color of the meat, changing the color of the meat does not help.
By the way, I'm serious about the osteoporosis issue. The ethnic group on the planet with the worst osteoporosis are the Eskimos who live up in the Arctic, who eat all this fish, and all this seal meat. They run lots of protein through their bloodstream. They have horrific incidences of osteoporosis from the steady drain of calcium out of their bodies. Osteoporosis is not a disease of calcium deficiency, it's a disease of calcium loss. And that calcium is going out through the kidneys from a number of causes. A sedentary lifestyle, to much animal protein in the diet, caffeine, sugar, salt, alcohol, all these things make you urinate out calcium. If you want to avoid osteoporosis, look on your dinner plate and see that chicken and fish is not doing you any great favors.
Fish has some other problems with it as well. I know a lot of people are on their continuum, as your diet evolves, many people go from red meat, to chicken, to fish, to dairy products, and finally to a vegetarian and vegan diet with no animal products. If you are on this continuum, if you are moving towards a pure vegetarian diet, bless you. I do not want to make you feel uneasy, but if you are in chicken and fish land, I urge you, do not linger there to long. Fish these days, besides being very concentrate protein, is by far the most polluted of all the flesh foods. For this reason I really feel that fish does not offer much of all in the way of a health food, and if it's the last part of animal products in your diet, again have no compunction about letting it swim off your plate all together.
One issue about vitamin B-12 that we need to cover. The issue of vitamin B-12 is very important. Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient that you need for healthy blood and healthy nerves. There is a prevailing feeling that only animal products contain vitamin B-12, as if cows make it. Let me be very clear about this, cows do not make vitamin B-12. They never have, they never will. Pigs don't make vitamin B-12, chickens don't make vitamin B-12, no animal makes vitamin B-12. They never have, they never will.
Vitamin B-12 is made by little microscopic plant cells called soil bacteria that live in the earth. And long ago when the earth was healthy and the soils were healthy, before we put all sorts of chemicals on them, The surface of the earth was covered with vitamin B-12, and there use to be lots of vitamin B-12 in our lives even if you were a pure vegetarian 300 years ago. You'd open up your cottage door and outside the back door would be a beautiful organic garden, and every carrot you pulled out of the ground would have little particles of vitamin B-12 sticking to it. When it came time to get your water, you'd take a bucket of water out of the stream, there would be vitamin B-12 in the stream water. There would be B-12 in the well water you brought out. There would be B-12 under your finger nails from working in the garden. There would be plenty of B-12 in your life and you needed so little of it, that it was not an issue.
We've become very isolated from the earth and we've lost our natural sources of B-12. Cows have B-12 in their muscles because they're eating grass all day and their pulling up clumps of dirt that have B-12 producing organisms clinging to the root of the grass. They eat the B-12 producing organisms who then produce the B-12, gets absorbed into their bloodstream and goes out into the muscles and is deposited into their muscles and livers. But that is bacterial B-12 in the cow's muscle. The cow did not make it, nor did the pig or chicken. It's true that you can go up to the cow, bash it's brains in, rip open it's abdomen and tear out it's liver and eat it to get your vitamin B-12. But I submit to you there is far less expensive and less violent ways to get your vitamin B-12.
Those same organisms are now cultured in big vats, they produce their B-12 which is separated out. It is then sprayed on breakfast cereals, it's added to soy milks, it's added to soy burgers, it's added to nutritional yeast, it's added to vitamin tablets. It's easy to get vitamin B-12 without consuming animal products and I suggest to you if you really want to lighten up your diet, find a non-animal source of B-12. Is it unnatural? Only because the lives we're living are unnatural and I think it's a much more holistic and gentle way to meet your B-12 needs.
We are evolving are diets. We're continuing an evolution. What our caveman ancestors ate is of little import to us now. The question is, what is the best diet for modern human beings? And in my personal experience, in my medical experience, and certainly as far as the medical literature is clearly showing now, the less animal fat and animal protein you run through your bloodstream, the healthier you are going to be.