NEWSLETTER 13 : A Low Fat Diet Is A Health Hazard (updated February 15, 2006)

Low Fat Diet and Health Hazard is the title of a lecture given by Edmond Devroey MD

at the convention of the company American Longevity in New Orleans.

In this web page, illustrations, data, references, abstracts and links to other pages and web sites

are added to the original text of the lecture.


In The News

February 8, 2006: Low Fat Diet Discredited

"Among a group (of more than 48,000 postmenopausal women, a low-fat dietary pattern did not result in a statistical significant reduction in invasive breast cancer risk over a 8.1-year average follow-up period"

The Journal of the American Medical Association Vol. 295 No.6.

February 13, 2006: Rebuttal

The l ow fat diet promotors have to admit:

"The study's size and design add weight to it surprising result. It is unlikely that the outcomes were due to chance"

They also claim:

"..It (the study) does not constitute the final word on the subject of nutrition in older women...."

Harvard Health Publication


Page Map

Road map
Part 1 - The Nature of Fat
Part 2 - The Role of Essential Fatty Acids
Part 3 - The Western Diet
Part 4 - Deficiency Diseases
Part 5 - Conclusion


Fat molecules are containers of fatty acids. Each fat molecule contains three fatty acids.

We make fat molecules from the fatty acids we find in food. We also make fat molecules from the fatty acids we synthesize. We synthesize fatty acids from the building blocks we find in food, mainly from carbohydrates.

We can change the internal structure of fatty acids, the ones we have found in food, as well as the ones we make ourselves.

We can change the internal structure of fatty acids by two processes, by elongation and by desaturation. The elongation and desaturation process are enzymatic operations. The elongation process adds carbon atoms two by two to the fatty acid molecule. The desaturation process removes hydrogen atoms from the molecule and introduces double bonds.

There are fatty acids our metabolism can not synthesize. We can only change them by elongation and desaturation but we can not build them.

The fact is that we need them. Since we can not make them, we have to find them in our food.
Therefore, we name them "Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)"

There are two categories of EFAs, the n-6 category and the n-3 category. Linoleic acid (LA or 18:2n-6) is the prototype of the n-6 category and Alpha Linolenic acid (ALA or 18:3n-3) the prototype of the n-3 category.

Common knowledge assumes that cells use fatty acids as fuel. That is correct. However, there is much more to say about what cells do with fatty acids.

The membranes of all our cells and the membranes of the numerous little organelles in the cells (like the mitochondria and the ribosomes) are made of a double layer of fatty acids.

In fat molecules the fatty acids come three by three,
In cell membranes the fatty acids are linked two by two

Recent research indicates that the capacity of a cell and of a cell's organelle, to fulfill their numerous metabolic functions closely depends on the variety of the fatty acids forming their membranes. Membranes need all kind of fatty acids and particularly fatty acids of the two EFAs families.

Not only are the EFAs key molecules in membranes, they are also the sole raw material our cell use to produce an important class of hormones, the prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins are hormones regulating blood coagulation and fluidity. Prostaglandins also monitor inflammation and immunity.

Prostaglandins also come in two categories, produced separately from the n-6 and the n-3 EFAs. The prostaglandins derived from n-6 EFAs increase coagulation, inflammation and stimulate immune reaction. The prostaglandins derived from the n-3 EFAs do the opposite. They assure blood fluidity, reduce inflammation and maintain the immune reaction within healthy limits.

The American diet contains an excess of n-6 EFAs and almost no n-3 EFAs.

The resulting n-6/ n-3 imbalance in cell membranes and in prostaglandins production are factors of stroke, heart attack, chronic inflammation, allergy and auto immune diseases.

A low fat diet only worsens the situation by increasing the n-3 fatty acid deficiency.

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Road map

The demonstration that A low Fat Diet Is a Health Hazard comes in four parts followed by advice concerning the choice of food and supplements.

In part one, The Nature of Fat, we have an inquisitive look at the internal structure of the fat molecule and at the fatty acids it stores.

To a newcomer to the science of biochemistry, we would suggest not to skip this part. The information provided in part one is essential for the demonstration.

At this point we request your help. If you do not understand any of the technical information, please do not hesitate to email us about it. We look forward with keen interest in reading your questions, comments, and suggestions. Email them at edv@longevinst.org. Thanks.

In part two, we shall discuss what our biochemistry does with Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and what the EFAs do for us.

Part three describes The American Diet, and its omega-3 (n-3) EFAs deficiency.

Part four reviews the various n-3 EFAs Deficiency Diseases

In the Conclusion, we review strategies to correct the n-3 EFAs deficiency of the American diet and reduce its impact on health.

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