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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.





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