There is No F in PVC

Why is this not the PVCF diet? Why aren’t we concerned with fat intake?

Actually we’re very concerned with fat intake. The reason we aren’t focusing on fat is that most of the fat we eat is actually embedded in the other “P”, “V” and “C” food choices we make. We don’t usually go out and eat just fat. Therefore, “F” is not a separate category in the PVC diet. People don’t typically say, “I have a taste for some fat.” Rather they say, “Let’s have a burger,” or pizza or french fries. That’s how the fat gets into our diet—through the poor protein (P) and carbohydrate (C) choices we make. Don’t forget, even the veggie (V) can be an unhealthy choice too if it’s swimming in bad fats, heavy salt or deep-fried (e.g., fried green beans).

As you learned in the “P” chapter, it is very important we choose low-fat protein sources. The best choices are animals that either flew or swam when they were alive. That bird is not getting off the ground if it is fat and equally the fish will not be able to swim with excess fat. (They have healthy fat though. See Good Fats vs. Bad Fats.) On the other hand, our land animals—like cows and pigs—can exist just fine with excess fat. Actually, they are bred specifically to have more fat since Americans prefer the taste. We like marbled fat and specifically choose pieces of meat that contain it.

Why does our meat contain so much fat?

Much of the reason is the way we feed livestock. Although our livestock are genetically designed to live on grass, our livestock industry feeds them corn-based meal because corn is plentiful in our country. In addition, they overfeed them so that they rapidly gain weight and can be brought to market quickly. This lowers the cost of raising them. Cows are fed so much that they sometimes gain over 100 pounds per week before they’re slaughtered. These animals do not have very long lives and are slaughtered quite young, so cardiovascular disease is not an issue for them. It is a significant issue for us though. When we eat their meat, we also eat their fat. It’s saturated and very unhealthy.

Why do we feed them corn instead of grass? This is an economic issue. Corn grows very well in the U.S. We produce over 13 million bushels of corn per year and we consume the great majority of it. Most of our corn goes to feed our livestock. As a result, our government has been subsidizing the corn industry for many years. In addition, there are tariffs on the importation of sugar cane since it would economically hurt our corn farmers. That is why you can’t find a soft drink sweetened with sugar. It’s all sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

Let’s talk about how the feeding of corn to our livestock has affected them and us. Remember, whatever they eat, we eat. Most of our cows, pigs and chickens (even our farm-raised fish) are fed corn instead of the grass and seeds they were designed to eat. Unfortunately, these animals were not designed to exist on a diet made of corn. They are supposed to be eating grass—high Omega-3 healthy grass. That is the way their bodies were designed. What happens to them when we feed them corn? A lot!

I told you in the “V” chapter that cows can exist on grass because they have a special digestive process called rumination. Cows can pass their grass between two sections of their stomachs and digest cellulose. Unfortunately, when they are fed corn, their ruminating stomachs build up bacteria that produce a large amount of gas that can kill the animal. To counter this, our livestock industry feeds them antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Unfortunately, these are the same antibiotics that are used today to treat infections in humans. As a result of the use of antibiotics by the food industry, we are seeing tremendous bacterial resistance develop which makes our antibiotics less useful to us when we have an infection.

In addition to its effect on animals, corn may be the mainstay of our farming industry, but it’s not the healthiest source of food for humans or livestock. Cornstalks today have been genetically designed to stand straighter. This allows the farmer to grow more cornstalks per acre and therefore increase production. Unfortunately to get cornstalks to do this means a change in their chemistry. As a result of the genetic engineering, our corn today is high in Omega-6 fatty acids. These are solid at room temperature and help cornstalks stand straighter. Unfortunately, they promote inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Grass, which is high in Omega-3s, does just the opposite of Omega-6s. They decrease inflammation and promote more healthy cardiovascular status. When we eat an animal that was raised on high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, we alter the balance in our bodies as well. Americans are consuming far too many Omega-6s. As a result, we have a lot of arthritis and heart disease. We may be taking Omega-3 capsules, but we are eating so many Omega-6s that the effect is negated. (See Good Fats vs. Bad Fats)

Why would our federal government subsidize an industry that ultimately makes our food unhealthy? I really have no good answer for you on this other than politics is more powerful than common sense.

Protein is not the only source of fat in our diet. Our carbohydrates are the other major source. Just look at the typical potato served at dinner. Potatoes are almost always combined with fat and salt because potatoes really have no taste otherwise. French fries, potato chips, even baked potatoes are usually smothered in butter and sour cream. Don’t be fooled by the now famous sweet potato fries or even fried green beans. They are still fried.

Look at our snack foods. Sticking with potatoes, let’s look at potato chips. Classic potato chips have about 10 grams of fat in every ounce (15 chips). That’s almost a gram of fat per chip! Cheese puffs are very similar. There is about a gram of fat in each cheese puff! Corn chips are also the same. Basically it takes about this much fat to make carbohydrates a tasty snack. Add to this the fact that a 1-ounce portion of these snacks has 10 percent of your entire day’s sodium content. These are very unhealthy snacks.

Veggies can be fat sources too. Many people dip their veggies into creamy dressings like ranch dressing. This contains 15 grams of fat for every ounce. An ounce is only two tablespoons. You can see how easy it would be to consume excess fat even when eating an otherwise healthy veggie tray.

The bottom line is that fat and its inherent health risks is embedded into the food we eat, both naturally and after processing. In the PVC diet we focus on healthy choices of protein, vegetables and carbohydrates. If you follow the rules you just read in the “P,” “V” and “C” chapters, you won’t need to concern yourself with the “F.” I rest my case.