Enjoy: Nutrition science is not all it’s cracked up to be

Etsy Christmas Gourmet 3A Lifestyle Images

Christmas dinner/Etsy

Healthy eating is important, but much advice that filters down to the public has not stood the test of time: From columnist Jonah Goldberg:

For decades, the government has advised Americans on what they should eat. The advice isn’t just advisory; it drives everything from school lunches and agricultural subsidies to marketing for those bowls of candy we call breakfast cereal. But the science behind this enterprise has always been shaky.

In “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” Gary Taubes chronicled how the federal government went all-in for a low-fat, high-carbohydrate food pyramid. The man most responsible, nutritionist and epidemiologist Ancel Keys, was convinced that America’s fat-rich diet explained the rise in heart disease in the U.S.

It was a plausible theory, but there was scarce evidence it was true. In 1957, the American Heart Association concluded that the correlation between fat and heart disease “does not stand up to critical examination.”

Three years later, the AHA reversed course, without any new evidence. Keys had simply taken over the relevant committee and asserted that “the best scientific evidence” was on his side.

Armed with a government grant, Keys went off to prove what he already believed. He launched the Seven Countries Study, comparing the diets of populations he cherry-picked. The study — surprise! — confirmed Keys’ thesis. Left unmentioned: Keys had data from 22 countries, and his correlations vanished in that sample.More.

If you come here often, you know the rest. But interestingly put:

Even when everyone’s intentions are good, politics can get in the way of science. Scientists are not immune to fads and groupthink just because they claim to speak for science. Special interests work the refs, but the refs often have an agenda as well. Winners of policy fights hate to lose — or admit they’re wrong. And people who shout about a settled consensus are often only shouting to drown out those who might disagree.

So, we probably won’t go far wrong if we eat a varied, nutritious diet and tune out the food phobias.

See also: Nutritionist admits in The Scientist: Much nutrition research is “fatally flawed,” “willfully fraudulent” pseudoscience Wow.

  • Xavier

    Beyond 2+2=4 and ‘liberals lie’, it’s all hyperbole.

    • 5 I say!

      • Xavier

        I was actually waiting for that! 😉

  • Clink9

    Heard a study a while ago that said anti oxidant type foods were fueling cancer cells.

    Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

  • AlanUK

    Our teeth and our digestive system demonstrate that we are neither carnivores, nor vegetarians. We are omnivores. Omni as a prefix comes from the Latin and means all or everything.
    There may be special reasons for deviating from this. My wife, for example, is allergic to all members of the allium family. This means if she eats onions, garlic, leeks etc, she has violent stomach trouble after a few minutes that can last for several days. This is true whether she knew she had eaten it or not.
    Beyond that, the average homo sapiens will not go far wrong with eating a bit of everything i.e. a mixed, omnivorous, diet.
    Anything more is rot!

    • canminuteman

      Agreed. People in Northern Europe and most of North America can only be herbivores because we can cheaply air freight fresh fruit and veg from somewhere where it’s warm. I think we must have evolved to eat the type of diet that is available in the environment where we come from. This is why Eskimos eat a diet that would kill us, but they thrive off it.

      • Frances

        Not just that, but they and more southern Indians do really, really poorly on the grain-based diet of a cultivator (farmer). Their digestive systems don’t like carbs. Out on the West Coast, a study at Alert Bay is finding that returning to the “native” diet (including oolichan grease) is helping diabetics.

        • Minicapt

          Oolichans: like sardines but mush tastier, and more oil.


          • Frances

            And – when produced in the traditional way (oolichans put in an old canoe to rot), very smally and strong flavour.

    • Minicapt

      I prefer having my veggies processed through a ruminant before consumtion.


  • Drunk_by_Noon

    I’ll stick to my gluten-free and macrobiotic bacon, bourbon, and tobacco diet, thank you very much!

    • Alain


  • Jay Currie

    Wise words as we enter the valley of perpetual turkey.

    I have always loved the fact that the margarine so staunchly advocated as a substitute for butter is worse for you than…butter.

    • Exile1981

      The wife and me were discussing this earlier today and how animal based lards have almost been removed from our diets but maybe they shouldn’t have been.

      • Jay Currie

        We actually sourced both pork and beef lard at a local butcher. And, of course, no fried potato is perfect without duck fat. Just a bit.

      • NO, they never have been. You and the wife are exactly right. If it’s whole fat from animals not treated with hormones and chemicals then it’s GREAT. That goes for meats, fish, eggs, and dairy. Let’s do the quick math: America has officially been declared an obese nation. Not only are we riddled with obesity, we’re also riddled with cancers and other illnesses both terminal and simply non-threatening but completely chronic (I call it Chronic Unwellness). This is from 50 years of a government-advised diet involving nonorganic good, GMO-created foods, processed foods, and loads and loads and loads of gluten. Here’s the kicker: it’s ALL cheap stuff. In America the poor/middle class are unhealthy and overweight but healthy food is too expensive, so they’re consigned to a lifetime from cradle to grave of cheap food that is killing them. Conversely, upper middle class and wealthy are thin – because they can afford expensive healthy foods and supplements, as well as gym memberships, yoga and pilates classes, hiking gear and the like. This is all the proof one needs that Bad Food = What lower middle class and poor can afford. Good Food = what upper middle class and wealthy can afford. So if the government really gave a CRAP about human beings our tax dollars would not be supporting fake nutrition research and junk science, and would instead be implementing agriculture programs in middle schools so folks could learn to plant, grow, and harvest their own gardens. While journalists write articles after articles about Americans wasting away from bad health and obesity, the government hasn’t changed ONE SINGLE THING about its nutrition assessments. People on welfare are still handed out slabs of processed cheese, and snacks such as Doritos, and sugary cereals. It is revolting. It is food slavery.

    • Frances

      Remember back in the day when animal fats were suddenly pure poison, and we were all enjoined to switch to vegetable fats, however processed. Another parent at our offsprings’ school mentioned that the trans-fats being promoted as “healthy” were actually worse than the animal fats they replaced. She was so right. Still long for the day I can taste fries produced using beef tallow.

    • Maggat

      I fill a zip loc container with Costco extra virgin olive oil and freeze it solid. I then put it into the fridge to warm up to fridge temp and it is then the consistency of soft margarine. Out of the fridge, on the toast or bread and quickly back into the fridge. The flavour takes a bit of getting used to but I do prefer it to either butter or margarine.

      • Whole-fat butter made from grass-fed cows (such a Kerrygold) is one of the best fats you can ever consume, and you can consume it totally guilt-free. If you love butter, go for it. As for the olive oil: have you tested it in the fridge first? You should. A lot of “extra virgin olive oil” is really combined with vegetable oil (the price should tell you a lot: you just can’t get quality olive oil for cheap). If you put your bottle of olive oil in the fridge overnight it should be solid by morning. If it still moves around in the bottle you don’t real olive oil. Please try this — it is imperative for your health.

        • I didn’t know that. Thanks for the tip.

        • Alain

          You are correct. It has to do with ruminates being grass-fed (their natural diet) as opposed to being fed grain.

  • bob e

    denyse .. you may have too much common sense. somebody may report you
    herr trudeau, so be mindfull .

  • The government can’t be trusted for anything. Grass-fed butter, bacon, and other whole animal fats not containing chemicals and hormones are some of the best foods you can consume. It’s not whole, healthy fats that are making people FAT: it’s high mono-saturated, processed gluten, high sodium (take a look at the sodium content of a can of Campbell’s soup!), heavily processed with chemicals and hormones “foods” that are making people fat, disease-ridden, lethargic, depressed, and riddled with illnesses. All the garbage food that the US government has been telling Americans to eat for decades (I know, this is a Canadian-based blog – the points still stand) is what has been killing us.

  • David Murrell

    OK, agreed. But two days after receiving notice that I have cancer, I am busy reading the internet for anti-cancer food cures. So I read that vitimin B17 is good. So I trapse off to out local health food store to buy some. But the hairball owner (long hair and beard) tells me B17 is illegal in Canada. But he shows me this bag of artichoke roots and claims they contain “natural B17”. I look at the price, hidden at the bottom, and the bag costs $59.99. And the label says that there are no B vitimins whatsoever in it. Geeesh.

    Anyways I have settled on a no-sugar, no-carbohydrate diet, from a Dr. Johannes Coy book.