Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto conceived the 80/20 principle in 1895, a statistical tool hypothesizing 80% of outcomes result from 20% of causes (1). Pareto concepts can readily apply to business, health, and a variety of other topics. Because much of the population looks for the easiest solution to problems perhaps utilizing the above concepts will achieve the most effect for the least effort to improve our health.
The poor metabolic health of our population, between 1999-2018, was highlighted recently in a 2022 publication (2). Only 6.8% of the adult American population could meet five metrics of cardiometabolic health, characterized by healthy levels of weight, blood pressure, glucose, lipids, and clinical cardiovascular disease (2).
We all would fare better with less stress, more sleep, and more exercise. Sure, these things are important but general advice like this, while important, doesn’t really address the root cause of our burgeoning health issues such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and a multitude of chronic diseases. Future blogs will get into more details for those that are interested but to summarize — the root cause of our exploding non-communicable diseases results from ingestion of ultra-processed food (UPF). UPF is defined here as added sugar, refined wheat (refined white flour), seed oils, and trans fat. Of these four components of UPF, seed oils, sometimes called vegetable or plant oils, are the most toxic by far. Suffice it to say that seed oil consumption has increased approximately 5,000 percent since the year 1900 (3).
UPF contains a combination of seed oils and added sugars in most cases. Because our total blood volume is approximately 5 litres, and we can only tolerate 4-5 grams of glucose in our bloodstream, your body rapidly defends elevated blood sugars by secreting insulin from your pancreas. If we repeatedly ask our pancreas to produce more and more insulin, from chronic carbohydrate overconsumption, our cells become resistant to this hormone, something we call insulin resistance (IR). Eventually we need to produce greater amounts on insulin to overcome the inability of glucose to enter your cells and this leads to type 2 diabetes in predisposed individuals. Seed oil consumption also results in IR in addition to creating oxidative stress, inflammation, and toxicity in every cell membrane of your body.
So how can we apply the Pareto principle to change our lifestyle and what we eat. The real answer is eating whole processed foods, organic if affordable. Because most, if not all UPF, contains the deadly duo of seed oils and added sugar, eliminating anything with a bar code on it is a good start. By changing only 20% of what you do you may well achieve 80% or greater benefit towards your health. Critically eliminate the most toxic, inflammatory, oxidative, and nutrient deficient food — SEED OILS.
#1. Avoid seed oils including cottonseed, canola, corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, sesame, rice bran, grapeseed, rapeseed, and peanut oil. If you must use something for cooking butter, beef tallow, or lard are the healthiest because of fat soluble vitamins critical to our health. If you object to animal products use macadamia nut oil, palm kernel, coconut, olive or avocado. Use as little oil as possible and be aware that up to 70-80% of fruit oils, such as olive and avocado, are reported to be adulterated with soy, corn, or other highly toxic seed oils.
#2. Avoid added sugars including brown sugar, cane juice, fruit juice, corn syrup, dextrose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, lactose, fructose, glucose, fruit nectars, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, honey, and fruit nectars. There are more as the food industry quietly hides sugars within UPF.
#3. Don’t drink your calories. Avoid fruit juices or beverages with added sweeteners.
#4. Consider the fact that 20% or more of the North American population eating a standard western diet may be addicted to sugar, or UPD —a deadly combination of sugar and seed oils (4).
#5. Type 2 diabetes can be put into remission in several patients. Even if you continue to require some medications, the dose is often reduced, and improvements in metabolic health are commonly seen (5).
1. Indeed editorial team. The 80/20 Rule Explained (Guide to the Pareto Principle). Feb 3, 2023. Accessed 26 April 2023. Available at: Indeed.com
2. O’Hearn M, Lauren BN, Wong JB, Kim DD, Mozaffarian D. Trends, and disparities in cardiometabolic health among U.S. adults, 1999–2018. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2022;80(2):138-151.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2022.04.046
3. Knobbe CA, Stojanoska M. The ‘Displacing Foods of Modern Commerce’ Are the Primary and Proximate Cause of Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Unifying Singular Hypothesis. Med Hypotheses. 2017 Nov;109:184-198. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2017.10.010. Epub 2017 Oct 14. PMID: 29150284. PubMed (nih.gov)
4. Vera Tarman, MD. MSc., FCFP, ABAM. Food addiction specialist, Toronto. Addictions Unplugged | Dr. Vera Tarman – Author, Speaker & Food Addiction Expert
5. Cripps, J. and Cucuzzella, M. (2023) ‘Look in or book in: The case for type 2 diabetes remission to prevent diabetic retinopathy’, Journal of Insulin Resistance, 6(1), p.7. https://insulinresistance.org/index.php/jir/article/view/79/248