Ray Peat on Diet and Avoiding PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids)
Enjoying what you eat is a true pleasure. This is the thought I keep thinking when delving back into a Ray Peat - inspired diet. To name names: fresh squeezed orange juice, real milk, eggs, sugar, tropical fruits…and a food that, for me, is not yet enormously pleasurable but one that is so chock full of nutrition that I relish that image as I chew: liver. These foods are high in vitamins and minerals and have another thing in common: very little PUFA.
Dr. Peat’s research in physiology, nutrition and health is extensive, and he has been writing about the problems with polyunsaturated fats for decades. From his website article:
Q: You say vegetable oils are hazardous to your health. What vegetable oils are you talking about?
Mainly, I'm referring to soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola, sesame oil, sunflower seed oil, palm oil, and any others that are labeled as "unsaturated" or "polyunsaturated." Almond oil, which is used in many cosmetics, is very unsaturated.
The idea of essential fatty acid deficiency was a mistake and then a fraud. Oxidized oils like EPA and DHA suppress the immune system. Cottonseed oil is a byproduct of the cotton industry. In the 1950’s there was an influential campaign by Wesson advising people to replace butter with their polyunsaturated cooking oil for desserts. People accepted the advertising.
Avoid fatty fish because the fat becomes degraded before it gets into the bloodstream. But the trace minerals like iodine and selenium are good, so stick with low fat fish and shellfish. For example, cod and sole are low fat and safe.
Olive oil is 8-11% PUFA, with the rest being a very good fat. 1-2 teaspoons per day would be a an amount to take. Butter and coconut oil are saturated fats, with 2-3% PUFA. Even on an unsaturated fat diet, PUFA will still get into your fat and brain tissues. From Peat’s Fats, Functions and Malfunctions article:
Saturated fatty acids terminate the stress reactions, polyunsaturated fatty acids amplify them.
Grains come with defensive toxins. Cows, insects and other animals eat the plant leaves, which regenerate, but seeds have the most toxins as a defense against predators. The oil in the seeds block the digestive enzymes of the animals who eat them. Traditional Mexican cooking soaked corn in lye - ashes from fire - and boiled grain with the lye/alkali to break down the starches and gluten-like proteins. Skipping these steps can result in pellagra (niacin/B3 deficiency) because of the toxins in the grain. Corn is one of the lesser toxic grains. Grains need to be highly processed to degrade the toxins, like sprouting. Soaking rice before cooking it lessens the adverse effects.
Until the 1940’s, we used to eat animal neck/thyroid/head in soups. In 1942 thyroid was not permitted by law in food, so since that time we’ve all needed to supplement with thyroid. Thyroid is our antidote to PUFA accumulation in tissues and blood, which blocks every function of thyroid hormone, from gland production to transport in the blood and beyond. So, you can start eating chicken neck and/or fish head soup once a week (know the source), or take some thyroid supplement. He likes Cynoplus or Cynomel from Mexico.
Generally, a faster heart rate is healthier. Brain function closely correlates to the heart rate. If you have a faster heart rate and your hands are cold, you’re likely running on adrenaline. It’s best to have the temperature be around 98 when you get up, and then rise to about 98.6 when you’re up and moving around. Heart rate will also be up then.
Dr. Broda Barnes worked at a high altitude in Colorado, while Peat, during humid summers in Eugene, OR, would find hypothyroid people feeling warm, so he began to incorporate heart rate into the equation. The brain works better the warmer you are. If your thyroid is low, you are likely stressed all the time with cold hands and feet. Drinking orange juice and milk in the am will help.
Free cholesterol decreases with age because it pairs up with PUFA and makes brain plaque. The plaque that Alzheimers people have is PUFA buildup. Aging skin is also an effect of decreasing cholesterol.
Fully hydrogenated fat is very safe. Peat buys hydrogenated coconut oil online. No PUFA.
Salt is needed to absorb sugar from the intestine. A salty snack before bed will lower stress hormones and result in better sleep. You can drink one tbsp of sugar in a glass of milk to get (back) to sleep.
Orange juice is a very good food to have, but commercial brands use unripe, acidic oranges. It might be best to find a good source and juice your own.
Adding heavy cream to your coffee makes it much easier on the stomach. You also absorb the caffeine more slowly.
Nutritious, low PUFA foods are cheese, eggs, milk, occasional shellfish and liver 2-3 times a month.
Older people - over 50 - need extra Vitamin D. They require two times as much sunlight as younger bodies. Cholesterol is made when sunlight hits the skin. The incidence of Alzheimers is higher in people whose cholesterol numbers are under 200.
Is bone broth healthy? Yes, but don’t use the marrow/long bones. Use just the joints, where there’s a lot of cartilage and ligaments. Those are the source of the collagen. Very little comes out of the bone itself. You can also use the chicken backs, necks, skin and wings as a source of collagen. (I use chicken feet and head and the broth gels nicely.)
Interview with Dr. Ray Peat, January 2019