In a recent study, Swedish researchers had arthritic patients consume 90% of their daily calories from fat. This type of eating plan is similar to what many native tribes around the world have eaten for thousands of years.
Within just one week, 100% of study participants reported a dramatic reduction in joint pain and stiffness.1
Conventional doctors continue to be surprised by results like this… But I’m not. In fact, this study reminded me of a researcher who chose to live with the Eskimos for years.
In 1906, Canadian-American explorer and anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson traveled to the Arctic and lived among the Inuits of the Mackenzie River region.
In an essay he wrote for Harper’s Monthly in 1935, Stefansson says that when he arrived, he had the typical “food tastes and beliefs of the average American.”
- That in order to be healthy you had to eat lots of fruits, vegetables and grains.
- And the less meat and fat you ate the healthier you were.
But during his decade-long Arctic expeditions, Stefansson tossed his preconceived ideas out the window.
While living among the natives, he ate what the Inuits ate.
Following in the footsteps of these skilled hunters, he tracked sea mammals like walrus, whale and seals across the frozen tundra. The most important of these animals was the Ringed Seal.
Stefansson and the other hunters would wait, sometimes for hours, at the seal’s breathing hole in the ice, waiting for the animal to come up for a breath. Every part of the seal, including the skin and blubber, were important for their survival.
To his surprise Stefansson discovered that following this native diet left him healthier and more energized than ever.
When Stefansson returned to New York City, a committee from Harvard, Cornell and Johns Hopkins universities studied him and his diet. For a year he ate a no-carb diet — getting 75% of calories from fat and the rest from protein.
Some of the experts predicted dire health problems in just 15 days. Yet at the end of the year, tests revealed Stefansson was in outstanding physical health.
But to this day, traditional doctors refuse to accept the results — and continue to attack a low-carb, high-fat eating plan.
Let me give you an example…
Just recently, I saw a study blaming high-fat diets for osteoarthritis (OA). With OA your joints start to disintegrate. Cartilage begins to wear away. Without that cushioning around the bones every movement is torture.
Researchers recently studied the effects of a diet rich in saturated fats found in butter, coconut oil, palm oil and animal fat. They blamed the fats for weakening cartilage and increasing inflammation.2
But they missed the real culprit…
You see, the diet they studied was only 20% saturated fat. The rest consisted of simple carbs like those found in junk food. A high-carb diet like that spikes insulin. It causes inflammation that leads to OA.
At the same time, we don’t get enough of the basic nutrients that build strong joints and bones. Our ancestors ate a primal diet similar to the Eskimos. It was full of game, organ meats and fatty fish. And their bones and joints were as strong as steel.
Studies show that a diet high in fat and very low in carbs — I call it my Zero Diet — can relieve joint pain because it is anti-inflammatory.3 In one clinical trial, 13 arthritis patients were put on a high-fat eating plan. After just one week they had dramatically reduced morning stiffness.4
Fats build strong bones by increasing calcium absorption from your gut. They also reduce the excretion of calcium in your urine. And they increase the amount of calcium that gets deposited in your bones.
Fats are also essential components in cartilage and bone. They improve bone strength by helping make collagen. And they transport and absorb bone-building vitamins like K, D and A.
Omega-3 fats are particularly bone-friendly. They’ve been linked to higher bone mineral density in older adults. They also inhibit the formation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. At the same time they increase formation of osteoblasts, the cells that build bone. And they reduce the inflammation that may break down bone and lead to OA.5
In short, your body needs fat — not carbs — to build strong bones and ward osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Eat a Zero Diet to Build Strong Bones
Following a high-fat nutrition plan is simple…
The most important thing is to limit carbs to 5% or 10% of total calories. The rest of your calories — 90% to 95% — should come from healthy proteins and fats.
A very low-carb diet is safe. Removing sugar and carbs will cause your body to burn fat for energy instead.
In the beginning you may notice a little fatigue, brain fog, weakness, low libido, or bad breath. That should clear up in a week or two as your body adjusts. Soon your energy and mental sharpness will surge.
Just make sure you choose the best quality foods you can find.
- Fats. Strictly avoid trans fats and vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, soy and canola. Instead, choose fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, butter, ghee and heavy cream.
I also recommend MCT oil for a zero diet. Your liver converts it directly to ketone bodies. You can use it to make mayonnaise and salad dressings, or add it to smoothies.
- Protein. Beef, organ meats, fish and eggs are your best sources of protein. If possible, eat grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish. Choose eggs from pastured chicken. Other good sources of protein include chicken, turkey, wild-caught salmon and other cold-water fish.
- Carbs. When it comes to carbs avoid all processed foods. Choose non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens. Also limit fruit to mostly berries which are lower in sugar than other fruits.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Kłak A., et al. “Current nutritional status of patients with rheumatic diseases in the population of Poland.” Reumatologia. 2015.
2. “High-fat, high-carb diet a cause of osteoarthritis.” Medical Express. April 18, 2017.
3. Masino SA, Ruskin DN. “Ketogenic Diets and Pain.” J Child Neurol. 2013 Aug.
4. Fraser DA., Thoen J., Bondhus S., et al. “Reduction in serum leptin and IGF-1 but preserved T-lymphocyte numbers and activation after a ketogenic diet in rheumatoid arthritis patients.” Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2000 Mar-Apr.
5. Olson MV,, et al. “Docosahexaenoic acid reduces inflammation and joint destruction in mice with collagen-induced arthritis.” Inflamm Res. 2013.