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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Truth....Can You Handle It?

Truth is somewhat like a vineyard of grapes in that to get the best fruit you must dig. Truth may not always lie on the ground for the taking therefore you must dig to get to it. In terms of science the truth may change as new discoveries are made. For example some in the scientific community once considered the earth to be flat an idea that has been roundly disproven by more modern science.
 

Nutrition science is much the same in that it too changes as new discoveries are made. For example scurvy once a widespread often fatal disease common among sailors was thought to have been caused by consuming tainted canned meat. Since 1932 however when vitamin C deficiency was shown to be the cause of the disease scurvy has been all but eradicated. Now a case of scurvy could be cured by a glass of orange juice.
 

Fast forward to today and take note of how much of what we do and the diseases we incur is said to be affected by nutrition. For the last half century is has been commonly assumed that the science behind saturated fats and their link to heart disease were set in stone. In fact most doctors practicing today operate under this paradigm yet the science is not as clear as you might think.
 

In 2009 a review of studies conducted over the 14 years prior was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In that article researchers found there to be no evidence for the conclusion that saturated fat was associated with an increased risk of heart disease (1).   So after all the years of preaching low fat dieting has the truth finally been uncovered? The evidence seems clear but a generation of health policy is not cast aside in a day.
 

Next notice the statement published by the American Diabetes Association on its own web site in the diabetes myth section. It declares that most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight (2). Furthermore the ADA explains that eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes (3). Surely there must be a misprint and the web master needs to correct the mistake most might say but could it be that the truth is not watered by popular belief? Perhaps it is time to heed the truths of nutrition science rather than make assumptions based on tradition.
 

 Finally another long held belief is hopefully going the way of antiquity. For years we have been conditioned to hold back on the salt shaker because higher sodium intake was linked to hypertension and heart disease. The truth seems to be that the opposite is true. A recent study found that that those who consumed the least amount of sodium had the greatest incidence of heart disease and those who ate the most salt had the least amounts of heart disease(4).


These are only a few of the big nutrition related issues that have changed as science has made its inquiry and discovery. What changes at the slowest rate are the perceptions and attitudes that have been built around the old science over the last generation. What we should expect and even demand from our doctor, nurse or nutritionist is the truth as told by the most recent and credible science available. Our responsibility is to dig for that truth and not just accept what might be lying on the ground.


1.  http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

2.  http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-myths/

3. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-myths/

4.   http://www.steadyhealth.com/articles/Eating_Less_Salt_Does_Not_Necessarily_Cut_High_Blood_Pressure_and_Heart_Disease_Risks_a1787.html




Saturday, February 18, 2012

They're Here............

In case you missed it in last week’s news a “government official” confiscated the lunch of a four year old preschool student in North Carolina because it did not meet the nutritional requirements as a healthy meal. Yes around January 30th in Raeford North Carolina at West Hoke Elementary School a lunch brought from home consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich, chips, banana and apple juice did not meet the government guidelines so the child was made to eat a government prepared meal of chicken nuggets. But wait there is more.


Another child in the same school around the same time was told her lunch did not meet the established government requirements and that she would have to eat a lunch from the cafeteria as well as pay for it.


As you might imagine school officials are hiding under their desks waiting for the storm to pass but in the meantime are blaming the students. Bob Barnes an assistant superintendent in the Hoke County Schools said in an interview with the McLatchy news service that the first child just misunderstood her teacher when she thought she was told to put away her homemade lunch and get one from the cafeteria. Barnes went on to say that the cafeteria foods were only meant to supplement items missing from the homemade lunch box.


Why are these things happening in a so called free nation? The first reason is competition. Every child that brings lunch from home is one meal that is not purchased from the school cafeteria. Since government funding of the school foodservice is based on rates of participation then brown baggers are seen as competition for the cafeteria. This is likely the reason that the children at Hoke Elementary were made to purchase foods from the cafeteria. This can be filed under the banner “If you can’t beat them ban them”.


Another reason for this trespass of freedom can be drawn from a memo sent to parents of West Hoke Elementary students dated January 27, 2012. In that memo the principal of the school Jackie Samuels noted that the West Hoke Elementary school received a rating of “good” rather than “excellent” on a recent ECER-S review. One of the glaring deficiencies noted was the nutritional quality of the meals brought from home.


So to protect the status of the pre-K program and no doubt the federal funding this principal has send correspondence to the West Hoke parents on how to assemble meals acceptable to federal USDA nutritional guidelines.


These stories are outrageous in a nation that calls itself free. If these things are going on in North Carolina then they are probably happening in many places. For many years our government has used the avenue of nutrition to drive its controlling talons into our national psyche. For the last few years many of those attempts to gain control have been chronicled here.


This is a tipping point in the race and it is time to let your voice be heard. Will you sit by and be bulldozed while a government cloaked in care and compassion takes away your right to eat the way you want? What next and then what will it be after that.


I have seen this coming for years and have warned of it but now….they’re here…….

Saturday, February 11, 2012

If It Sounds Too Bad To Be True Then It Probably Is

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is the old saying goes but what if it sounds too bad? If something sounds too bad to be believable it likely is as well. That is especially true given most of what is said about health and nutrition! The most recent example is an article by Dr. Robert Lustig in Nature the weekly international scientific journal.


The article titled The Toxic Truth about Sugar attempts to link sugar, the stuff that sweetens your tea with every health issue known to man. Everything from obesity and diabetes to heart and liver disease are linked to the sugar we consume. Dr. Lustig went even further in his assessment putting sugar on the same level as tobacco and alcohol in terms of its negative effects on health. After reading the article I have concluded that it just sounds too bad to be true.


Health warnings through the years such as salt causes high blood pressure and butter leads heart disease have made great fodder for the headlines but have done little to clarify what it really means to eat a healthy diet. As a consequence the ridiculousness escalates until there is a headline calling sugar a toxic substance needing to be regulated by the government. Another and even more egregious consequence is that we begin to question or ignore our own common sense when it comes to what we eat.


Here are a few quotes I have heard that highlight the point “White bread is bad for you and may cause diabetes”, “Refined white flour and sugar are devoid of nutrients and make you fat”, “I really need to stop poisoning myself with all of this sugar”. These comments and others like them may be a reaction to a headline but are in no way related to facts. The next time you read or hear something along these lines ask yourself “Does this sound too bad to be true?”


Although we are constantly old that many of the foods we eat, white bread, sugar, pasta, butter etc., are causing poor health is it true? Is drinking a soda or glass of sweet tea as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes? Is that linguine Alfredo you had for dinner on par with several shots of hard liquor in terms of health?  Is a Twinkie going to send you spiraling into a diabetic coma? The answers are no, no and no to all three.


Rather than writing a dissertation skewering all of these outlandish health claims I encourage you to ignore them and trust your own common sense. Seek out good sound information (i.e. from mother and grandmother) on what is good and healthy for you to eat. Finally if it sounds too bad to be true, it is!