Robert Crayhon, my friend, co-worker and nutritionist extraordinaire posted an important blog today that people need to read. He talks about the absurdity of the food pyramid, put out by the USDA. He tells it like it is as usual. His blog is one you need to read every once in a while.
Preventive health care has gotten a lot of wind from the people running for President of the United States. Hillary Clinton says, “focus on prevention: wellness not sickness.” Mike Huckabee said that focusing on prevention “would save countless live, pain and suffereing by victims of chronic conditions, and billions of dollars.” Obama added that “too little is spent on prevention and public health.” But what is preventive health care.
According to the pharmaceutical industry, it would be statin drugs to prevent heart disease, except, it really doesn’t do that but they won’t admit to that. Screening tests, like blood and urine are deemed too costly because they are used willy nilly and expenisve procedures like MRIs and PET scans are way overused. In a recent (February 14th) issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the Prospective omitted one type of prevention, nutrition.
Making our food supply real again would cut back on disease and would improve the quality of life more than anything out there. Eating real foods, not processed junk, would stem the tide of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and cancer yet they talk about everything else instead of the cause of high medical costs. Stop subsidizing big agriculture and helping them make things that have no business being called food is one way. Another, is to help educate Americans about what real food is.
Unfortunately, the government is not where this is going to happen. It will only happen when each and everyone of us makes a conscious choice at the supermarket to buy real food and avoid junk. The dollar speaks mightier than the legislative pen. Buy organic, buy local, buy real.
Coming out soon is a book that Gary Taubes, a New York City journalist has written called The Diet Delusion by Vermilion. In it he writes that obesity is not simply eating too many calories but the abnormal effect on ones hormones. Taube wrote in the recent New Scientist magazine (January 19-25th, 2008) that “There is considerable evidence that the obesity epidemic is caused by a hormonal phenomenon, specifically by the consumption of refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars, all of which prompt (sooner or later) excessive insulin secretion.”
Furthermore, he skewers many in the diet industry by saying “Obesity researchers, nutritionists and health authorities have refused to contemplate this scenario, partly because it would imply that diet-book doctors advocating carbohydrate-restricted diets – Robert Atkins et al – were right all along. Instead, these alleged experts and guardians of our health have wasted a good part of a century on research based on a high-school misconception, watching their compatriots grow ever fatter while blaming everyone but themselves. In the process, they have created a field of clinical medicine that functions more like a religion than a science. It is time to put science back in charge.”
I agree with him that hormones are at the root of obesity but I want to add something he hasn’t looked at (or at least I don’t think he has which is the effect of environmental toxins on hormones and obesity. To me, it is the very cornerstone of why the world is getting fat. Toxins like phthalates, bisphenol A, benzene, toluene, and xylene, all have been shown to have an effect on hormones. Heavy metals which can also interfere with hormones as well so just putting the blame on bad carbohydrates, is only part of the story. I highly suggest reading the article in the New Scientist and getting a subscription while you’re at it.
The burger chain Hardee’s which has a history of producing artery clogging garbage has now introduced a breakfast burrito that not only has 920 calories but 60 grams of fat. Their Monster Thickburger is 1420 calories and even their chicken salad has 1,100 calories and an astonishing 83 grams of fat. Talk about heart attacks on a plate!
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocate for nutrition and health, has called the Hardee’s line of Thickburgers “food porn.” I heartily agree.
This is a company with no conscience, no care for their stakeholders and no respect for the people they serve. It’s all about money with no corporate responsibility at all. Legislation is needed to make companies like Hardee’s pay a health tax to help pay for their health damaging garbage. Just like smoking and alcohol, meals like this should be taxed and taxed heavily. Their marketing Brad Haley, has no shame and makes no apologies for pushing these meals. Shame on Hardee’s.
We continue to hear politicians running for President yap about health care reform and how our system is broken and doesn’t help millions of Americans which, on the surface is true, but they refuse to acknowledge another real dillema and that is the need for tens of millions of Americans to reform themselves first. The explosion of type II diabetes in our country is not due to the high cost of medical insurance, it is due to us eating too much fast food, drinking too much soda and thinking that exercise is the use of a remote control and standing up to go to the fridge to get a beer.
We can easily blame the food industry who sells us items they call food but we make our own decisions and many of them are obviously wrong. As I walk through Costco or Wall-Mart and look at the shopping carts of people who are so obese that they waddle, I notice very little in real food. Mostly I see chips, sodas, frozen pre-made meals, and all other sorts of junk with little in the way of fresh or healthy foods. These are the same people who we have to pay for when their open heart surgeries are done, when they line up at the pharmacy to fill their 5 or 6 prescriptions that cover up their decades of unhealthy living.
You want to eat junk, pay higher premiums. You want health care, act like it means something. When it comes to adults, we need to force people to accept responsibility for their actions. For children, we need to give them universal health care and health education. If their parents won’t change, teach the children to. If we don’t, our society will eat itself out of existance. What the terrorists outside our country want to do to us, we are already well on our way to doing to ourselves.
In an interesting article on CNN.com, reporter Judy Fortin talks about how vegetarians need to watch and adjust their protein intake regularly or they run the risk of protein deficiencies. Over the past 20 years, I have been able to view the laboratory test results of a number of vegetarians and rarely do I find normal protein/amino acid levels.
The article talks about how vegetarians seem to like the addition of chicken flavored soy products to their diet to make up for their lack of animal protein but in my opinion, this comes at a cost. From the talks I’ve had with people who run hormone testing labs, excessive soy intake may not be as healthy for you as the media would like you to believe. In a future blog, I’ll discuss the problems with soy.
Here is an interesting little video about nutrition from youtube called Punk da Junk: A Journey of Epic Nutrition.
Professor Brian Wansink, at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that the closer food was to a person, the more likely they were to eat it. Basically we are creatures of laziness, if it’s there, we eat it. If it’s convenient, we eat the food. Dr. Wansink said “When it comes down to it, we’re efficient people, We want something that’s convenient. And if it’s fruit or vegetables that’s a whole lot more convenient than that cake that’s wrapped up in the freezer, guess what’s for snack today? Fruits and vegetables.”
The lesson here is, don’t have food on your desk at work. Make it harder to have easy to access junk food at home. Eat your dinners on smaller plates, pre-portioned food, not “family style” (you tend to eat a lot more that way). Don’t eat food directly from a bag or container, grab a portion of the food and make it a thought out process. Also, when buying soda, if you absolutely have to (please don’t), buy cans and not the big 2-liter sized bottles. Skip the mega sized drinks and stay away from the candy.
The candy eating was interesting, as Wansink said that if you ate 5 candies a day at 125 calories total, that adds up to 12 pounds a year! Now add to that toxicities affect on resting metabolism and you gain weight real fast. As I have lectured about around the world, if you inhibit your metabolism by a mere 5-7 percent, you could put on an amazing 20-50 pounds without eating any more food.
Anthony Bourdain is not just a pretty darn good chef, but he turns out to be a very good writer. After reading, Kitchen Confidential, I could never eat a seafood frittata again (or any seafood on a buffet on a Sunday). He writes with such bite and wit that I was thrilled to see he had written another book on food called The Nasty Bits.
While this isn’t related to health or nutrition, I really recommend it to everyone who likes to read. It is a nice book to read in bed, or by the fireplace. Be forewarned through, Anthony pulls few punches, especially in the chapter called “The Evildoers” where he skewers the fast food industry being one of the main reasons the world is becoming obese. The book is worth the price just for that chapter alone.
In a astonishingly bad decision, the United States Department of Agriculture has decided to force almond producers to pasteurize their product. One of the approved methods uses propylene oxide which is considered by the European Union as a carcinogen. It is also a highly toxic flammable chemical compound, once used as a racing fuel, but that usage is now prohibited under the US NHRA rules for safety reasons. Safety reasons! Yet the USDA wants almond growers to spray it on their crop?
The Organic Consumers Association is sprearheading a campaign to role back the rules. Please go to this site and make your opinion known. We, as consumers, need to stop this madness. Don’t take this sitting down because if you do, what next?