Saturday, January 28, 2017

Nutrition myths

At Maggie's Farm Dr. Joy Bliss takes on the subject of nutrition.
I have repeatedly insisted that a "healthy human diet" cannot be defined. As omnivores, humans can survive and thrive on many sorts of diets. Each culture has its own food biases, myths, preferences.

It is an imaginary First-world problem to obsess about food as if food were medicine, magical, or potential toxins in our civilization of revolutionary food abundance, quality, variety, safety, and flavor.

(We have discussed weight loss and physical fitness ad nauseum here, so this is not about those special nutritional areas.)

Old wive's tales, obsolete studies, superstitions, misrepresented press reports, etc. These are my own views via the literature. Do your own research if you want. This applies to otherwise relatively normal people without serious ailments:

- Coffee is bad for you. Wrong.

- You should drink X glasses of water per day. Nonsense. If you are peeing, you are hydrated.

- Beer and coffee are dehydrating. False. They are just enhanced water.

- Red meat is bad for you. Nonsense. Where did that myth come from? The Federal Chicken Board?

- Organic foods are "better for you." Zero evidence for that, but there is evidence that organic foods have fewer nutrients. Not that it matters; it is de minimus.

- You need roughage to prevent colon cancer. That is disproven. It will give you larger BMs if that is what you enjoy.

- Fruit and fruit juice is good for you. Nope, they are just flavored sugar, what I term warm popsicles. Tasty though. Fruit is just a dessert as the Italians understand, not real food. Worried about scurvy, are you? Fruits are not really healthy foods, but are good sources of sugar if you are sugar-deprived.

- Eggs are bad for you. Wrong. They are an excellent food, actually one of the few "perfect" foods (ie balances of fat, protein, and carb). A "perfect food" means you can thrive on it, alone, for a long time.

- Carbs and starches are bad. Nope. They are great foods as long as you are not dealing with a weight problem. With the egg, potato is the other "perfect" food item. Well, milk too.

- Eating fat makes you fat. Wrong. Excess carbs make people fat. Carbs, plus general gluttony.

- Three meals per day. Why? It's just a habit. For youth and manual laborers, certainly - plus snacks.

- Vegetarian diets are healthier. Utter cultish nonsense. Active humans and growing kids need plenty of good protein for normal growth and muscle maintenance and repair, which is difficult for vegetarians to obtain without extra effort and expense. Low-protein cultures generally have littler people with less strength.

- Gluten? Don't get me started.

- Salt is bad. No, it is essential for health. If you have dangerous blood pressure, take a pill.

- Vegetables and greens are "healthy." Not especially. They are just cheap, sometimes tasty, tummy-fillers. If you hate all veggies and greens (even steamed spinach with garlic), take a multivitamin once or twice a week and forget about it. Otherwise, enjoy them.

- Low cholesterol diets? There is no meaningful relation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease unless you have severe familial hypercholesterolemia in which case you take a pill and hope for the best.

- Alcohol is unhealthy. Nope, good for body, soul, and cheerful companionship if not abused.

- White vs. Brown breads, rice, and sugars? The brown thing is pure foolishness, except for flavor preferences. If you need brown rice for the microscopic protein in it, you need Food Stamps desperately. Get an EBT card and buy yourself a Big Mac.

- Fish oils are healthy. A health-food scam, same as "organic." Fatty fishes are delicious, though: shad, tuna, swordfish, trout and salmon, bluefish. Even a baked mackerel with garlic and rosemary.

- "Free range" is better. If it's a cultural, moral, or flavor thing for you, go for it if you can spare the cash. I'd like to see a blind tasting. I do hate to see animals raised in meat factories, but all animal husbandry is meat factories. Nursery schools and day care are caged meat factories too, but we don't eat the product.

Where am I in error?

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