Got Oil?  Take it for Safe Recycling.

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How can it be, in the enlightenment of year 2015, that more people are afraid of gluten-poising than of oil-poisoning?  Eating gluten is not a cause of our American epidemics of coronary arterial destruction (sometimes called “heart disease” – making it sound almost contagious!), diabetes, and myriad cancers.  And consuming oil is very much a cause of this carnage.

Don’t be stupid.  I know, oil has a good public relations thing going – especially such presumed elixirs of robust health as olive oil.  But, in truth, oil is deadly.  It’s junk – almost perfect junk by our definition.  Oil is 100 percent dietary fat with the benefit of having zero nutrients.  In other words, it is calorie dense and nutrient deficient – the worst junk that you can put into your mouth.

Worried about not getting enough fat in your diet?  Relax.  Unless you are starving yourself to death – that is, eating essentially nothing – then you are getting ample dietary fat.  And chances are you are currently eating mostly useless fat – actually toxic would be a better adjective.  Rather than meeting modest omega 3 fat needs, most Americans are consuming 20 times more omega 6 calories than omega 3 calories, all but eliminating the omega 3 effect on nutrient digestion and metabolism.

My neighborhood now has a specialty oil emporium, where people can partake of oil tastings, and purchase lots of vintage oil.  It almost looks like a medical laboratory – see the picture above.  And these oil boutiques are showing up all over my city!  And people are actually gathering to taste oil!

Don’t do it.  Don’t add oil to your food.  Don’t cook with oil.  Don’t mess with oil.  Find a toxic waste recycler for whatever oil you still have around.  And don’t get any more.  And if you want to replace those oil calories with something, you might try gluten!

Food Groups, Food Pyramids, Food Fantasies

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When I was a kid we were taught one of the most despicable lies in the history of human nutrition.  We were taught that there were four “Basic Food” groups:

  1. Vegetables and Fruits
  2. Milk
  3. Meat
  4. Cereals and Breads

Since this formulation of food “groups” was entirely political and unscientific, I’m a bit surprised that tobacco didn’t get its group!  After all, as one North Carolina senator reputedly complained (apparently tongue in cheek), “the dairy industry got its group, the meat industry got its group, why shouldn’t we get ours?”

Things have improved a little – but not much – as we evolved from the “Basic Four” to My Pyramid and now to My Plate, both of which offer similarly disingenuous “groups” of foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.

What, pray tell, is a “protein food?”  This imaginative creation, sanctioned by our ever-adaptive U.S. Department of Agriculture, sends a funny message to the public.  Since there is protein in broccoli, why isn’t it in this “protein food” group?

Maybe we should fabricate just three, very small, food groups:

  1. The “Not Protein” Group
  2. The “Not Fat” Group
  3. The “Not Carbohydrate” Group

In this way we could just isolate the unique specimens of stuff that we put in our mouths that do not contain one or another of these macronutrients that we find in virtually everything we eat!

Real food – as opposed to junk as we have defined it – will deliver the macro and micro nutrients that you need in the amounts that you need.  It’s as simple as that.  Just don’t put junk in your mouth and you will get exactly what you need, without having to worry about a food plate or food pyramid or food “group.”

Of Course Epidemiology is a Science! Duh!

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Several decades ago I was immersed in a writing-and-speaking schedule that ultimately empowered businesses to eliminate smoking from their premises.  I know — it’s hard to remember when everyone smoked at work!  During that fifteen years of publishing and speaking on the issue of smoking control in the workplace, I frequently confronted tobacco industry prostitutes (whoops – I think I mean “spokespeople”) who asserted, among other blather, that there was no scientific evidence linking smoking to health issues (I’m not making this up!).  The basis for this ludicrous claim was that all of the smoking-verses-health evidence came from epidemiology, not from the gold-standard of randomized controlled trials (RCT’s) that gets drugs approved by the FDA.

The inference in their silly argument was that epidemiology wasn’t really science!  That somehow the exhaustive study of populations and observable differences, and the power of inferential statistics, weren’t enough to condemn smoking – we needed randomized trials!  How would you like to be in a randomized trial group that is assigned to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day for twenty years?

Let me be clear in this foggy confusion.  Epidemiology is THE science that gives us compelling data connecting particular behaviors to health outcomes.  And make no mistake about it; there are reams of incontrovertible evidence to support virtually everything that is asserted in this blog series.  Randomized trials work in certain research venues – but rarely in the geneses and courses of disease, especially those “diseases” that are, in reality, damage to parts of the human body.

For example, we know that dietary fat contributes to body cholesterol, to plaque accumulation, to the narrowing of arterial walls, and to so-called coronary heart disease (damage to the cardiovascular system).  We know this from epidemiology, not from engaging volunteers in unsavory and unethical human trials!  Not from subscribing to the Josef Mengele School of professional medical ethics!  The most important findings in nutrition, indeed, the essence of science-based nutrition, emerges from epidemiology, not from human experimentation.  Not from random trials.

Epidemiology is a science!

The Cow’s Revenge

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I established in an earlier blog (March 23, 2015) my ambivalent relationship with the cattle herds that befoul the water supply and methane-ate the atmosphere.   I have no argument with the cows.  I just don’t particularly want them around.  And I am perfectly fine with you eating them and drinking their milk.  But there are costs for you and this might be a good time to revisit those costs.

First, beef is junk — not food.  It is high in dietary fat and low in dietary nutrition.  Calorie dense and nutrient light.  You won’t hear this from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (www.beef.org) or from my state’s Cattle Producers of Washington (www.cattleproducersofwa.org).

But it’s true.  If you follow sound, scientific nutritional guidelines, you won’t be putting much beef in your mouth.  Don’t put junk in your mouth.

But there is junk and there is junk – and some junk is much worse for you than other junk. And when it comes to bovine sources of junk, the most deleterious source is from the cow’s milk – from dairy.  Beef is junk, is not nutritious, and is unhealthy; dairy is worse than junk, is not nutritious, and is unsafe.

Why doesn’t everyone know this?  A few years ago the Pacific Science Center in Seattle created an exhibit for children to raise their consciousness around health issues.  The exhibit was sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Washington (www.havemilk.com) and you can well imagine the mass of disinformation that comprised the exhibit.  Apparently the First Amendment, when it comes to lying to children about milk, is an absolute license.

If the Food and Drug Administration exercised an ounce of integrity, dairy products would not be approved for human consumption.  The epidemiology around dairy is compelling and frightening.

In a previous blog I challenged you to investigate the safety of dairy.  Well?  Have you found that one independent, scientifically sound study yet that supports the assumption of dairy product safety?  Keep looking!

Blessed are the Poor, for They Shall be Fat

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This is just the kind of reckless extrapolation that gives sociologists a bad name – or at least should be giving them a bad name.  Why are Americans plagued with excess body weight, even obesity, and all of the health carnage that attends to being fat?  Let’s make this a multiple-choice question:

  1. They consume more calories than they burn.
  2. They don’t exercise enough.
  3. They eat junk.
  4. They are poor.

If you answered #4 then you are among the sociological intelligentsia.  You understand something that escapes so many scientists in the exploration of dietary metabolism. You understand that poverty causes weight gain and prevents its loss.

Now, I know — you are thinking that since eating low on the food chain is both demonstrably healthier and far less expensive, that one might intuit that the poor would have an advantage in weight management.  You might hypothesize that since the cost per nutrient in the vegetable section of the grocery store is a bare fraction of the cost per nutrient in the junk sections of the grocery store (about 90 percent of the store), that the wealth-deprived should be doing just fine.

But, of course, you would be wrong.  Why?  Well – here is a possible, albeit inexplicable, explanation:  The poor are getting fat because they are forced to eat high on the food chain.  They are forced to consume processed junk that costs way, way more per nutrient than nutrient-dense, calorie-light alternatives.  That’s because they aren’t allowed in the produce section of the grocery store where nutrition is cheap.  Only the rich are allowed to buy cheap, nutrient-rich food.  You’ve seen the signs at the produce isles:  “Only the rich may shop here.  The nutritional content of these products is priced far too inexpensively for the poor.  Stay away!”

I suppose there is a poverty that leads to obesity.  A poverty of awareness.  A poverty of information.  A poverty of health education.  A poverty of critical thinking.

Eating at the bottom of the food chain is eating inexpensively.  Eating at the top is expensive.  Junk is expensive.  Real food is not.

Pooping in my Water, Farting in my Air

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I really don’t have anything against cows.  They seem like such nice beings, staring at you lovingly with those enormous eyes.  Honestly, extended eye contact with a big cow is cosmic!

It’s true that I don’t like eating cows. But I don’t think they like me eating them, either.  And I want nothing to do with their toxic milk.  But, again, I don’t really think they are that keen on my sharing their milk.  Actually, I’m guessing they are pretty offended by my even suggesting they should over-breed so I can milk them into oblivion.  And as for the bovine boys – who really wants those odds for a decent life expectancy?

I do have a problem – a couple of them – with all those cattle grazing and farting and belching and pooping in the eastern acres of my state.  Pooping in the streams befouls the water quality.  And farting befouls the air in unhealthy and untoward ways – methane comes to mind as one particularly problematic contribution to the atmosphere.  And, not to be greedy, but feeding cattle uses a ton of fertile acreage and crop-raising energy that prevents any possibility of feeding 7 billion earthly brethren.

If you’re a cow, I can hear what you’re saying:  “Don’t talk to me about over-breeding and over-eating and over-farting and over-pooping!  You profligate, out-of-control, intemperate humans have somehow managed to explode your species from 2 billion in the 1920’s to over 7 billion today!  And you’re complaining about our contribution to global warming and human starvation!”

I know there are those reading this little nutritional manifesto and saying “this guy is just an animal-loving vegetarian extremist who wants to share this precious, scarce earth with critters.”

No.  Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s rump about all those critters.  Oh, I don’t condone torturing and senselessly slaughtering animals.  But, if we humans were omnivore or carnivore in our anatomy, I would be the first to rip apart a big cow with my fangs, as any self-respecting carnivore would.  But until our anatomy changes, that wouldn’t be very healthy for me.  Otherwise – I don’t give a rat’s rump about those animals that are competing for my food supply.  I do care a lot about the hundreds of millions of my fellow humans who face hunger, even starvation, on a daily basis.  We need to save some fertile soil for them.

America’s Phantom Experiment with Eating Low Fat

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You’ve heard it a dozen times.  Americans were all a twitter over low-fat, high-carbohydrate dieting and they just got fatter.  And then they finally woke up to the magic of Atkins, and now the cavemen, and realized that the true path to weight management lies in consuming animal fat uncontaminated by those pesky carbohydrates that make us fat.

And, oh, by the way, we have defined “low fat” in these press releases as eating somewhere between 35 and 45 percent of total  calories from fat, and “high carbohydrate” as eating somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of total calories from carbohydrates.

So let’s get this straight.  If we rely on science rather than fad-ism, an appropriate, healthful level of fat consumption (where “fat” does NOT include saturated fat) is between 10 and 20 percent of total calories.  So – how can “low fat” be between 35 and 45 percent?!

And — again relying on science — an appropriate, healthful level of carbohydrate consumption (where “carbohydrate” means complex carbohydrate, of course — NOT simple carbohydrate junk) is between 70 and 80 percent of total calories.  So how can “high carbohydrate” be between 30 and 40 percent of total calories?!  And, by the way, it really amounts to between 10 and 20 percent from complex carbohydrates, if we are using the SAD (standard American diet) as the baseline!

It’s no wonder people are confused.  In every dialogue about nutrition, we turn over defining terms to some Orwellian “Ministry of Definitions” where low means high and high means low!  And then we convince the country’s most prestigious medical journals to accept for publication studies that use these Orwellian terms.

And, bingo, we discover that “low-fat” eating (which is, of course, high-fat eating) delivers the same outcomes as “high-fat” eating (which is, of course, the same as low-fating eating!).  And we discover that “high-complex-carbohydrate” eating (which is, of course, minuscule-complex-carbohydrate eating), delivers the same outcomes as “low-complex-carbohydrate” eating (which is, of course, the same!).

High is low.  Low is high.  Good is bad.  Bad is good.