Is fat bad for our guts? Let’s ask the bacteria…

Intestines Sketch with Guts Bacteria

A new randomized study out of China is trying to tell us fat is bad for our microbiome, and the headlines came flowing.

U.S. News: High fat diets do no favors for your gut bacteria

NZ Herald: High fat diets hurt the useful bugs within us

Eurek Alert: High fat diet linked to unfavorable changes in gut bacteria and inflammatory triggers

If we believe it?

The study in question took 217 Chinese adults and randomized them into low carb (20 percent of calories), moderate-fat (30 percent ) and high fat (40%) cohorts. Away, red flags should be popping up on your brain. If the high fat group is eating 40% of the calories from fat, where are the remaining calories? 48 percent of the cohort’s calories came from carbohydrates.

Haven’t we learned that joint high-ish high-carb and fat diets tend to have the health consequences? Adding fat to a system overwhelmed with high insulin is not a fantastic idea. See 50 decades of Standard American Diet (SAD) history.

Red flag #2 should have you asking,”Where’s the fat coming from?” The majority of the intake was from soybean oil. It’s absurd to assume that soybean oil, an industrially produced seed oil, has the same consequences as real-food-based fats out of eggs, cheese, avocados and meats.

Red flag #3 (as if we need any more) should have you asking,”Can we really know what the alterations in our microbiome mean to our long-term health?” I understand that all studies can’t be studies measuring outcomes like longevity, death and heart attacks, so we need to pick markers to follow to give us an idea about health. The key, however, is picking surrogate markers which we confidently know correspond to clinical outcomes. It’s still quite a ways away from helping us make decisions, while the research shows promise.

If we would like to know the ramifications of a low-carb diet on the health we will need to actually test a high-fat diet that was real, based on food not oils. We need to measure outcomes. It might be hard, but that is the path to reality, if we want answers.

Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher, MD FACC

Woman thinking of butter

Healthy fats on a keto or low-carb diet

Guide On a keto or low-carb diet, fat is the primary energy source, so picking healthy types and eating the right amount is important. Here’s a guide to what you need to know about fat.

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