Internationally recognized author & health expert argues that perceived benefits of vegetable oils are dangerously misleading

By Chris S. Cornell

Dr. Chris Knobbe, an internationally recognized expert on diet and health, is set to speak at the 8th Annual San Diego Symposium for Metabolic Health. His talk, titled “Omega-6 Apocalypse: Vegetable Oils, Overweight, and Chronic Disease – What’s the Evidence?” will explore the dangerous implications of high omega-6 diets, particularly in the form of seed oils.

Dr. Knobbe’s latest book, The Ancestral Diet Revolution: How Vegetable Oils and Processed Foods Destroy Our Health – and How to Recover!” (2023), and his earlier work, Ancestral Dietary Strategy to Prevent and Treat Macular Degeneration” (2016), have made significant contributions to our understanding of diet and chronic disease.

The Harmful Effects of Seed Oils on Chronic Diseases

“When you really want to address what’s driving this, what are the problems with processed food, what you see is that it’s the vegetable oils, the high omega-6 fat that’s driving the huge majority of all this disease,” said Dr. Knobbe. “Wherever the seed oils go, they leave behind a trail of destruction.”

In Dr. Knobbe’s view, the historical data reveals a significant link between the rise of processed foods and the surge in chronic diseases. Before vegetable oils and processed foods became common, diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome were exceedingly rare. However, as the consumption of vegetable oils, refined flours, refined sugars, and trans fats has increased, so too have the rates of these diseases. 

Dr. Knobbe had been investigating how seed oils could be contributing to a host of chronic diseases including obesity, coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, age-related macular degeneration, and others.

Exploring the question of the impact of reducing seed oil consumption, Dr. Knobbe emphasized the harm caused by these oils is directly proportional to the amount consumed. As such, even small amounts can be harmful, but the more you consume, the greater your risk of developing a myriad of diseases, he said.

Regarding the benefits of eliminating seed oils, added sugar, refined grains, and trans fats from the diet, Dr. Knobbe noted that those who resist the idea of diet changes may not realize that this would essentially equate to consuming the diet of our great-great-grandparents in the 19th century, a time when people ate a variety of foods but were generally healthier due to the absence of these harmful ingredients.

The Link Between Vegetable Oils and LDL Cholesterol

Despite mounting evidence against seed oils, Dr. Knobbe said that many people still defend their use primarily due to the fact that they can lower LDL cholesterol. However, he strongly disputes this perceived benefit, citing the deleterious health effects associated with these oils.

“These vegetable oils contribute to chronic metabolic problems,” said Dr. Knobbe. “Yes, your total cholesterol may go down when you consume vegetable oils in place of animal fats, but that is their only perceived benefit. It’s not a true benefit at all, but that’s their perceived benefit.”

When addressing the question of why lower cholesterol achieved through the consumption of vegetable oils may not contribute to health improvement, Dr. Chris Knobbe, MD, explained that it’s primarily due to the impact of omega-6 fatty acid, particularly linoleic acid, which is abundant in vegetable oils. He explained that this fatty acid makes up about 80-90% of the omega-6 we consume, and is reflected in our lipoproteins – the particles that transport fat throughout our bodies.

Dr. Knobbe detailed the process by which high omega-6 intake can lead to the propagation of atherosclerotic plaque, also known as fatty streaks. “When you consume more vegetable oils, you will get more oxidation of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) particles,” he explained. These oxidized LDL particles (referred to as LDL ox) are removed from the circulation and deposited into the vascular structure, specifically the intima layer. This results in the formation of plaques, he added, the very health problem one aims to prevent by lowering cholesterol. 

“In other words, consuming vegetable oils may lower cholesterol, but it paradoxically drives the development of atherosclerosis,” Dr. Knobbe said.

The misconceptions about LDL cholesterol are rooted in historical studies that suggested a linear relationship between LDL levels and heart disease risk, according to Dr. Knobbe. “Whether your LDL is high, over 300, or very low, under 150, it makes virtually no difference to your risk of coronary heart disease. Instead, the key issue is the level of LDL oxidation, which is primarily driven by the amount of omega-6 fatty acid in one’s diet.”

Connection Between Vegetable Oils and Macular Degeneration

Dr. Knobbe, an ophthalmologist by trade, moved away from practice in 2015 to pursue full-time nutrition research. His interest was particularly piqued by the potential link between the consumption of processed foods and the incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He has since established two non-profit foundations, Cure AMD Foundation and Ancestral Health Foundation, to further explore this and related issues.

When discussing macular degeneration, Dr. Knobbe indicated that the first cases of AMD only appeared in the late 19th century, despite diagnostic capabilities having been available since 1851. Today, the prevalence of AMD has dramatically increased, with around 196 million people worldwide diagnosed in 2020. By 2040, this figure is projected to rise to 288 million. His research indicates a significant correlation between the consumption of vegetable oils and the rise in prevalence of macular degeneration. As he put it, “when we had almost no processed foods, and when we didn’t have any vegetable oils, we didn’t have any macular degeneration.”

In Dr. Knobbe’s view, a greater awareness of the potential harm associated with vegetable oil consumption is gradually spreading, contributing to a budding movement of individuals eschewing these oils from their diets. “It appears to me that more and more people are getting the message that vegetable oils are dangerous,” he added.

In the words of Dr. Chris Knobbe, macular degeneration, like Alzheimer’s, is not an all-or-none kind of disease. It has gradations, ranging from very mild to very severe, and everything in between. In the earliest stages, when you just have metabolic deposits called drusen in the macula, reversal is possible. However, as the disease progresses, the loss of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which supports the photoreceptors (the rods and cones), leads to irreversible damage.

“When you lose the RPE cells, you lose the photoreceptors, the rods and cones,”he said. “And again, you’ve lost your vision in that area permanently, it cannot come back, and it will not come back. And there’s nothing that can bring it back. It’s like having a stroke, you know, with permanent loss of that part of the brain. It’s not coming back. So we need to prevent these diseases.”

Nutrition: a matter of life and death

Knobbe further emphasizes the urgency and the importance of proper nutrition, highlighting it as a matter of life and death. He reflects on the sharp contrast between our modern lifestyles and the 19th century, when diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer were borderline rare. Today, he observes, despite the evidence linking unhealthy dietary habits to various diseases, most people resist dietary changes. He points out the harsh reality that many people only express regrets about their food choices after falling ill.

“The first symptom of coronary heart disease for 25% of people is sudden death…” he lamented. “It’s the same way for some cancers, you’re not getting another opportunity. So that’s how important this is.”

His advice on the subject is clear and simple. He urges the elimination of vegetable oils from our diets, which he believes could dramatically reduce our risk of coronary heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and macular degeneration. He suggests avoiding vegetable oils, sugars and refined flours can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases by 95% or more.

Dr. Knobbe emphasizes the potential benefits of attending events such as the Symposium for Metabolic Health in San Diego. Participants, he suggests, could gain life-saving knowledge, learn to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and heart disease, and even improve their weight management.

“At this conference, you will learn things that will be life-saving, or life improving…” he said. “You might gain knowledge that will help you to lose weight, to reverse diabetes, to reverse metabolic syndrome, to prevent cancer and heart disease and strokes, all these kinds of things are possible just by attending this conference.”

This knowledge is not only valuable to individuals but also to healthcare professionals, who can apply what they learn in their medical practices. Plus, the networking opportunity these conferences provide allows for the exchange of ideas and experiences, further enriching the value of attending.

Dr. Knobbe underscored the essential role of education in our health journey, saying, “The more I learn about nutrition, the more I learn what I don’t know. And the bigger I see that this field is… it’s so valuable to attend a conference like this, again, because of what it can do for you, for your family, and even your patients.”

“Health is an invaluable asset that we often take for granted,” said Dr.Knobbe. “An emphasis on preventive measures, primarily through nutrition, is critical in preserving and enhancing our well-being. Attending conferences such as the Symposium for Metabolic Health provides an opportunity for everyone to learn more and take proactive steps towards healthier lives.”

8th Annual SMH – San Diego, August 17-20, 2023

Attendees of this year’s Symposium will have the opportunity to learn about the use of carbohydrate reduction in addressing, and even reversing, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver, PCOS, CVD, epilepsy, TBI, Alzheimer’s, neurological pathologies, mental health conditions and much more.

This year’s conference will also include a very special session dedicated to presentations regarding the connection between cancer and metabolic disease, and will educate practitioners and laypersons about metabolic therapies that may improve outcomes in addition to traditional treatments, and how they may make them more effective, with less side effects.

For those interested in delving into the extensive evidence supporting carbohydrate reduction as a therapeutic intervention, and discovering ways to improve one’s metabolic health through lifestyle changes, the Symposium for Metabolic Health in San Diego is slated for August 17-20, 2023.

We encourage you to sign up for the livestream even if you can’t attend in person. The connections made even through the chat application, and the opportunity to watch inspiring, informative lectures from your own home or office, are incredibly valuable!”

Plus, everyone registered, whether in person or livestream, gets access to replays for an unlimited time!  So in case you miss anything live, you will have the ability to view and review at any time!

Save on tickets, low-carb meals, and optional CME credits –  discount code listed on register now page.

Learn more and register here.

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