36, heart attack... kind of a rewilding bummer :\

So on the morning of Saturday, Oct 9th this year - just a couple of weeks ago - I had a heart attack. This might throw a wrench into my already sadly lacking dirt-time. I’m not even old enough for this, really - I only turned 37 this past Sunday.

I’d been meaning to start the paleo-diet; now I rather have to, since it’s low-sodium. So I’m curious - the paleo is not supposed to be low-fat; it’s instead got a naturally better mix of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats.

I’m curious, is there anyone here who’s had this kind of thing happen? How did it affect your way of doing things?


Wow, that sounds really aweful !
i hope you’re doing better now !

let us now how dieting works out for you.
any idea on why you were getting a heart attack?

take care

Yeah, that totally sucks. I’m sorry.

I’ve been eating Paleo and I feel way better. I “cheat” in certain ways (i eat corn chips) and I can feel the difference when I avoid that. I’m not a nazi about it, I don’t think I can be while living in a city and being surrounded by this culture. But I have limited what I eat by living in a house of people who eat in a similar way so there is not a lot of crappy carbs and stuff laying around the house. This works miracles.

I know someone who had a heart attack at 42, though I don’t know the details. He changed his lifestyle to include exercise, yoga, and a low saturated fat diet. Now, about 13 year later, I think he’s slacked off on the exercise but seems generally to be doing well. He didn’t go on cholesterol lowering drugs. Instead he used niacin, his dietary/lifestyle change, and… not sure what else. Though I don’t know your particulars I would think you’re young enough to get past this and live a long and healthy life.

I try to keep my diet roughly in a paleo direction. Similar maybe to what Scout describes. I cheat some.

My impression is that there’s some debate over how much (saturated) fat it should involve. I think Cordain suggests specifically low fat meats, cutting the fat away, etc. I think he supports this somewhat with the observation that hunter-gatherers have typically eaten mostly lean game meats. Yes, they will seek out fat, but simply can’t get that much with the meats they eat. That sounds reasonable to me, but I could be wrong and haven’t gone through Cordain’s materials very thoroughly.

OTOH, some paleo/semi-paleo folks ignore that and go for the fat, often justifying it with some research evidence that high (LDL) cholesterol may not in fact be linked to heart disease. Here’s a relevant video.

I haven’t personally reached any strong conclusions about it, but certainly think mainstream medicine tends to push certain ideas as conclusive when in fact they’re anything but.

It might be worth looking for a doctor who supports the paleo diet, though I’m not sure there are more than a few out there at this point who really know much about it.

Hi John,

I wonder about animal fat too, not that I think vegetable oils having anything better to offer (and probably worse), I feel much better using tallow/lard/butter. That said, the rule of garbage in garbage out applies. On modern fattened cattle, they probably just get fed cake/corn/grain to fatten them up. I heard something about the fat coloring different depending on the food, white or yellow.

Fat colour

In healthy cattle, cream/yellow fat colour occurs when cattle graze green pasture. This results from the ingestion and absorption of yellow pigments that are present in plants. These pigments have been identified as carotenoids, with beta-carotene being the major component responsible for fat colour in cattle.

The yellow colour of the carotenoids in green
plants is not obvious because their colour is
swamped by the large amounts of
chlorophyll. However, carotenoids are
relatively unstable and as soon as grass
appears to have dried, their concentration is
much reduced. Most grains contain only
small concentrations of carotenoids. This is
why fat colour decreases when cattle are fed
in feedlots.

Presently, the only way of reducing fat colour
of grass-fed cattle is to move them to a
feedlot and feed them a grain-based (low
carotenoid) diet for several months.

Hi Fenriswolfr,

A late update. :slight_smile: In the last year it seems Cordain has softened his stance on saturated fat. This post is from a blog he’s associated with:

So that brings him more in agreement with a lot of other paleo folks. My guess, at this point, is that there is probably an optimal range of saturated fat consumption. Too little is bad for you, but there is undoubtedly an upper limit as well. I just try to envision hunter-gatherer diets, to imagine where they might fall in such a range. But I’m guessing at it more than I’d like. I really need more detail on what is known or believed concerning how much fat “typical” hunter-gatherers have eaten. I hear conflicting things.

Regarding fat in grass fed versus grain fed cattle… yeah, I think there are also big differences in the omega-6/omega-3 ratios and I believe in other factors too. I seem to recall also reading something that made me think buffalo should be even better than grass fed beef – something about differences in the meat/fat owing to its not having been domesticated. Maybe someone will have the details on that.

Hey John,

My guess goes along these lines:
Wild food in general probably has less fat than domestic food, however, I doubt a hunting subsistence culture thrives off of lean meat, (i.e. I would guess given the choice of the more fat buffalo over lean deer, one would choose buffalo). This probably holds for the farther north a hunting culture lives. The farther north, the higher the fat content, and the farther south, the higher the carb content.
Also, I feel that fat makes one feel more full than carbs, thus one may eat less or regulate eating better (i.e. not easily consuming too much), so this in line with the probably better nutritional benefit of eating wild food makes kind of a 1 2 punch.

Thus, when eating domestic/grain fed meats, I might opt for leaner cuts, but don’t worry about it too much, like choosing vegetable fats over animal fats).

Yeah, I think that farther north you’re burning more calories, so need more fat, right? When you mention the higher carb content of diets as you move farther south are you talking about things like yams and maybe other root vegetables with significant carb content? It does seem the cultures in warmer, more tropical latitudes eat more things of that sort.

Interestingly, though, the “higher carb” diet of cultures around the tropics doesn’t necessarily mean “low fat”, or low saturated fat - since many tropical plants have very high saturated fat/unsaturated ratio (I think coconut oil is around 97% saturated) due to the fact that unsaturated fats go rancid in heat much faster than saturated fat. Which also explains why its healthier to cook with animal fats or tropical vegetable oils (coconut or palm) than other vegetable oils.

Also, I think that in modern times most people living in the tropics eat a “poverty diet”, of lots of carbs/plants (esp grains) and little protein/meat, because of the oppressive impact of western civilization on that part of the world - in contrast to indigenous cultures there, who don’t traditionally eat large amounts (or any amount, AFAIK) of grains. I think intact indigenous cultures in the tropics get a healthy amount of protein not only because of the nuts available there, but by eating insects (VERY high in fat and protein), and having a healthy landbase with enough animals to hunt.

More specifically about the fat question, I would point anyone interested to the Weston Price Foundation website (www.westonaprice.org), and Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions, both of which explain the vital role of dietary fat in human health, and clearly debunk the modern medical myth that eating saturated fat = heart disease (a myth “evidenced” by studies that lump saturated fat in the same category as trans fats, for the benefit of the corn and pharmaceutical industries). Personally, I think the fact that the “low fat” diet craze of recent decades represents a radical departure from traditional human diets, combined with the skyrocketing rate of heart disease within the same time frame, says it all.

Of course, it makes sense that modern medicine (driven by the pharmaceutical industry) would promote that myth - in order to promote heart disease - because big pharma directly (and massively) benefits from people getting heart disease and being prescribed statin drugs. And its working - now statins are the most consumed class of drugs in North America, and big pharma is making billions.

We just can’t trust what the medical industry says about our health, since all aspects of it (doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies) directly benefit from us being unhealthy! If everyone were healthy, they would all go out of business.

It’s interesting how in the paleo diet and related communities there’s this exploding awareness that the low fat notion was almost the opposite of the truth, that saturated fat is actually good for you, and that the actual villains are those things (carbs/grains, most vegetable oils…) of which our ancestors ate very little.

I remember the earlier days of the low fat craze very well. I went along with it, thinking it was the thing to do. In my lifetime it was sort of the first really major, well defined, dietary dictum to come out of the scientific community (or what seemed to be “the” scientific community) other than simple things like “eat a balanced diet” or “eat more fiber.” Looking back, it’s amazing no one stopped to ask, “Hey, what did people evolve eating? Should we maybe pay some attention to that? Hmmm…”

The thing that I don’t get about this whole “lowfat” diet craze is that it doesn’t work, so “we” just need to do more of it, right?

Which is what I just hear more and more of. I was once a vegan and during that time, I ate a great low-fat diet. I wasn’t eating any coconut oil and I even avoided nuts because they were “too high in fat”. I ate a lot of soy because it was heart healthy for me, right? I ate a lot of beans, grains, plenty of vegetables and fruit. I ate this way for nine years. Imagine my surprise when over the years, I went from a healthy 145lbs to 250lbs, eating a low fat diet, and not only that, I was the gold standard of a low-fat vegan who was praised by all health authorities. Further, imagine my surprise when I went to the doctor for a routine health screen to find my triglycerides were 300, and my cholesterol was 270. I was 25 years old! Thanks to my weight as well, my doctor immediately made assumptions, and told me I might want to think about a “lifestyle change” and cut back on the fatty foods! I can’t tell you how many people think it’s okay to comment on someone’s weight and suddenly, your own medical problems are everyone’s business.

I was very disillusioned and insulted. Here I was, doing everything “right” and I was fat, unhealthy, fatigued and getting sick all the time. In my last year of being veg, I had 15 colds in one year. I also felt cold all the time, even in the summer, despite my copious layer of adipose. I was usually wearing two shirts and wool socks when the weather was 75F outside. Something was very wrong, and I never thought it could be diet-related.

Until I figured that what did I have to lose? I was already fat and sick. What could I really lose by eating eggs, meat and butter? If I had a heart attack and died, how could that be worse than the way I was already living? So, everything “they” told me was “wrong”, I did.

Don’t eat more than 5 eggs per week? I ate that many a day, often eating three eggs for breakfast and then putting two more hard boiled eggs in a salad.

Don’t eat red meat? I ate it twice per week and I didn’t cut the fat off either. I did emphasize grass fed meat though, that I bought at the farmers market, something told me this was better, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Don’t eat fat? I piled butter, coconut oil and tallow on anything I could put it on. I ate liver with butter. I ate steak with more tallow than steak.

Exercise more? I exercised less. I lifted weights more often and cut back on the cardio. A walk was fine, i didn’t need to go for those two hour long jogging trips anymore.

And so on.

Then, guess what happened? I lost weight. My cholesterol and blood pressure dropped so low that I actually had to be on salt therapy for a month because it was “dangerously low” (70/30). I now weigh 180lbs and I’m still losing. My periods, which had been erratic since I was 13, were finally regular, coming every 30 days or so. Where previously, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have a period after 16 days then go 6 months before having another. The condition of my skin and hair improved.

I’ve had one cold in 3 years.

I eat paleo most of the time, save for a few grains that I’ve grown in my yard, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa, and I still don’t make grains maybe 2-3 times a week, when I really have a craving for porridge. I stay away from sugar, which is a definite trigger for migraines. Speaking of migraines, I used to be crippled by them too. I mean, literally crippled. They would leave me crying under covers in a dark, quiet room for days on end, and just when the haze would start to leave me, I’d see that aura and another one was coming up. In one year, I had 83 migraines, which usually last 3-4 days. There are 52 weeks in a year. Do the math.

After one year of eating paleo, I had 6 migraines. The following year, I had 3. This year, 2011, I’ve had 2 so far, and it’s mid-June as I write this.

And yet, we’re told diet has nothing to do with it?

I’m a living experiment that everything “they” tell you is an outright lie and it’s about time they came to this realisation, looked up the evidence, the examples and said,

“We were wrong.”