by Dr. Mercola
The omega-6 apocalypse: How it increases your risk of Covid
- Vegetable oils, more accurately called seed oils, are likely the most important metabolic toxin in your diet. They are the unifying mechanism behind westernized chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes
- Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity were virtually unknown in the 19th century but have skyrocketed today; the introduction of processed foods with sugar, refined flour, trans fats and, primarily, industrially processed seed oils, are the culprits
- Seed oils, also misleadingly known as “vegetable oils,” are industrially processed, proinflammatory and driving oxidation in your body that drives chronic disease and obesity
- While ancestral populations have had their health protected by not consuming seed oils, other populations, like Japan and ancient Egypt, have had declines in health that correspond to increasing consumption of these toxic oils
- If you were to make one change today to lower your risk of chronic diseases, eliminating virtually all seed oils from your diet would be the top choice
The majority of Americans are being misled by official health recommendations to eat “healthy” vegetable oils. Even the term “vegetable oil” is misleading because it gives you the impression that you are receiving vegetable micronutrients when these oils are actually highly toxic, industrially-processed seed oils. Seed oils are some of the most dangerous items you could eat.
This is even more of an issue today as the high amounts of oxidative stress these oils cause seriously impair your immune function and radically increase your risk of all infections including COVID-19. In my view, eliminating all seed oils is every bit as important as optimizing your vitamin D level to decrease your risk of COVID-19.
In the video above, Dr. Chris Knobbe, an ophthalmologist and founder and president of the Cure AMD Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), gives an excellent synopsis of why seed oils are the unifying mechanism behind westernized chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes.1
While most have heard about the health risks of eating processed sugars, net carbs and trans fats, seed oils far surpass all of these in the damage they cause to your health. If you were to make one change today to lower your risk of chronic diseases, eliminating all seed oils from your diet would be the highest priority.
By 2006, 88% of Americans Were Metabolically Sick
Heart disease, now the leading cause of death in the U.S.,2 was virtually unknown in the 19th century. The same goes for cancer, which caused 0.5% of deaths in 1811 and 5.8% of deaths in 1900 — spiking to more than 31% of deaths in 2010.3 A similar pattern emerged for diabetes, which rare in the 19th century and had a prevalence of 0.37% in 1935. By 2020, there was a 28-fold increase in 85 years, to a prevalence of 10.5%.
Obesity? Same story. With a prevalence of just 1.2% in the 19th century, obesity increased 33-fold in 115 years, to a prevalence of 39.8% in 2015.4 By 1990, meanwhile, 24% of U.S. adults were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and visceral obesity.
By 2009-2015, 88% of U.S. adults did not meet five criteria for metabolic health, measured by blood glucose, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference.5
Macular degeneration and osteoarthritis followed similar striking increases, with Knobbe asking the question of what was so ubiquitous during this time that could have prompted these changes. Dietary history provides the answer, with the introduction of four primary processed foods — sugar, industrially processed seed oils, refined flour and trans fats — acting as the culprits.
“I believe this is a global human experiment for which no one gave consent. Nobody saw this coming. They wouldn’t have signed up for it,” he says.6 Knobbe also cites the work of Weston A. Price, the dentist who wrote the classic book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” In the 1900s, Price did extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases.
He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his research revealed native tribes that still ate their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and were almost 100% free of tooth decay.
But when these tribal populations were introduced to refined sugar and white flour, their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly deteriorated. “Weston Price connected these foods, these very foods essentially, to physical degenerative disease in 1939. Nobody listened,” Knobbe says.7 Knobbe seems to be the 21st century equivalent of Price.
Why Seed Oils Are Like Arsenic
The problem with seed oils is that they’re industrially processed, proinflammatory and drive oxidation in your body. Health officials like to state that seed oils are great for you because they lower cholesterol, but as Knobbe says, so does arsenic. The two toxins actually have quite a bit in common:8
“We may think this is a joke, but actually, incredibly, there’s many parallels between [arsenic] and seed oils, not the least of which is the fact that arsenic is fantastically oxidative, pro-oxidative. And this is exactly how seed oils get us. They drive the oxidation. They’re pro-oxidative, proinflammatory and toxic, but of all of these, it is oxidation. That is by far the worst.”
You’ll find seed oils in most processed foods, including fast food and even many expensive restaurants. “Even the finest restaurants are using seed oils because they’re about one-sixth the cost of butter,” Knobbe says.
The reason they’ve been able to remain in the food supply, despite their high toxicity, is because they’re not acute biological poisons but chronic ones:9 A solid strategy when eating at a restaurant is to avoid ALL the sauces and dressings, as they are virtually all loaded with seed oils.
“They were brought in slowly, beginning in the 1860s. And they were first used to adulterate lard and butter, and then gradually they were used to supplant and replace lard, butter and beef tallow. And that’s how they got away with this. And so we gradually became overweight and sick, and they’ve kept them in the food supply that way.”
In addition to being proinflammatory, Knobbe points out, these seed oil poisons are also:10
One-Third of US Caloric Intake Is Seed Oils
Knobbe’s published data show that seed oils, which were introduced into the U.S. diet in 1866, made up 32% of Americans’ diet by 2010, which amounts to 80 grams per person per day.11 In contrast, in 1865, most people would have only about 2% to 3% of their caloric intake from omega-6 linoleic acid, found in seed oils, which would have come from butter, lard and beef tallow.
Ancestrally raised animals had very low omega-6, but this changes when animals are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) the way they are today. CAFO pork may contain 20% omega-6 fats, for comparison.12 Knobbe highlights several native populations that have very low rates of chronic diseases and comparatively low consumption of linoleic acid, such as the Maasai Tribe of Kenya and Tanzania.
They eat primarily milk, meat and blood — a diet that’s 66% animal fat (33% to 45% saturated animal fat), 17% carbohydrate and only 1.7% omega-6 linoleic acid (LA). They have no heart disease, yet the American Heart Association continues to tell Americans to limit saturated fat to no more than 5% to 6% of daily calories.13
Americans, based on a 24% to 32% of daily caloric intake from seed oils, are getting 8% to 12% or higher of their daily calories from linoleic acid alone. In another example, Tokelauans, who live in a territory near New Zealand, eat a very different diet with 54% to 62% of calories from coconut, which amounts to 53% fat, 48% of which is saturated fat.
Only about 1% of their diet or less is omega-6 fats, and they also have no heart disease and virtually no obesity or diabetes.14 “If we look at these populations,” Knobbe says, “and you can look at all of them, ancestrally living populations, what they don’t have is refined sugar, refined wheat, and of course they don’t have vegetable oils”:15
“… So what about the omega-6 LA in these traditional populations? It is 0.6 to about 1.7%, I think all are under 2%, to the best of my knowledge, where our westernized populations — seven to 12% omega-6 linoleic acid alone. This again is the key takeaway point. So what happens to this omega-6? We accumulated it in our body fat.”
Japanese, Egyptians Plagued by Seed Oils
While ancestral populations have had their health protected by not consuming seed oils, other populations, like Japan, have had declines in health that correspond to increasing consumption of these toxic oils. Since 1960, Japan has had marked increases in obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, multiple cancers and age-related macular degeneration.
Meanwhile, in 1950, the Japanese were consuming only 3 grams a day of seed oils, which rose to 39 grams a day by 2004. As a percentage of total calories, omega-6 increased from 1.55 in 1950 to 6.2% in 2004. “That’s the main problem right there,” Knobbe says.16 “So Japan’s declining health is most likely due to a 13-fold, 1,200% increase in highly pro-oxidative, proinflammatory, toxic and nutrient-deficient seed oils.”17
In the video above, Dr. Paul Saladino, the author of “The Carnivore Code,” a book on nose-to-tail animal-based eating, and “The Carnivore Code Cookbook,” coming out in December 2021, also explains why he believes the ancient Egyptians became overweight and sick from eating seed oils.
Hemiunu, a man who lived in ancient Egypt and is believed to have been the architect of the Great Pyramid of Giza, is depicted in a statue as being overweight. There’s also an ancient Egyptian queen who was confirmed, via a mummy, to have been obese and suffering from cancer.18
The Egyptians were an outlier among ancient civilizations because they also had instances of coronary artery disease. Saladino argues that civilizations such as Egypt, which had boats, were more likely to visit villages where they could purchase “processed” foods, including seed oils.
Not only may the Egyptians have been the first population to use seed oils en masse, but the ruling class may have been more likely to have had these expensive refined oils, hence, the obesity occurring among the higher class.
Seed Oils Are the Missing Link to Rising Chronic Diseases
According to Saladino, it was the introduction of linoleic acid in their diets that made the ancient Egyptians fat and sick. He also refers to a report by Jeff Nobbs,19 which found that 6 in 10 Americans have a chronic disease, and heart disease, asthma, cancer and diabetes have increased 700% since 1935.
During this time, Americans have been smoking and drinking less, exercising more and eating “healthier” according to conventional guidelines to lower saturated fat and sodium. Nobbs, too, believes vegetable oil is the missing link that explains why Americans keep getting sicker:
“[C]hronic disease and obesity rates continue to rise. All the while, vegetable oil has steadily and stealthily made its way into our pantries, restaurants, and packaged foods, now contributing 699 calories per day to our diets, or about 20% of everything we eat.
Is vegetable oil the missing link? If vegetable oil is indeed the hidden culprit behind today’s chronic disease epidemic, it’s an elegant and simple solution to explain why chronic disease and obesity continue to rise, even as we adhere to public health advice.
I’m convinced that our wars against red meat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium may be misguided. Fighting those battles may be like focusing on the sidekicks when the true villain pulling all the strings is still hiding in the shadows. It’s time to shine a light on that slippery villain, our possible public health enemy number one: vegetable oil.”
No. 1 Health Tip: Prepare Your Food at Home
It is vital that you reduce your intake of industrially processed seed oils as much as you can. This means eliminating all of the following oils:
|Grape seed||Rice bran|
Olive and avocado oil should also be on the list, as they are commonly adulterated, and even pure olive oil is loaded with linoleic acid. To do this, you’ll need to avoid nearly all ultraprocessed foods, fast foods and restaurant foods. This is why it is so important to prepare as much of your food as you can in your home so you know what you are eating and, in the case of seed oils — what you’re not.
Sources and References
- 1 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021
- 2 U.S. CDC, Heart Disease Facts
- 3 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 8:26
- 4 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 9:21
- 5, 6 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 10:09
- 7 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 11:17
- 8 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 3:09
- 9 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 5:10
- 10 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 6:05
- 11 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 13:04
- 12 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 15:01
- 13 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 16:56
- 14 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 19:22
- 15 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021, 20:33
- 16 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021 32:14
- 17 YouTube, Omega-6 Apocalypse 2, Chris Knobbe August 25, 2021 35:01
- 18 The Irish Times June 28, 2007
- 19 Jeff Nobbs, What’s Driving Chronic Disease? March 28, 2020