Saturday, February 5, 2011

Expert and No-so Expert Journalism: Diet Myths

If you're going to be a journalist, I suggest that when an "expert" tells you something, that you get a second opinion on the matter from someone who disagrees with them. Or better yet, or in addition to, that you go and do some research yourself on the matter. Of course that requires having some critical thinking skills and being able to read on a post-baccalaureate level.

I'll give you an example of bad research, or just parroting whatever the nutrition "expert" tells you. In an article from yesterday in the Midland Daily News out of Michigan, they tell you that February is American Heart Month and talk to a Registered Dietitian from their local medical center to find out what you can do for a healthier heart.

I have yet to meet or read a Registered Dietitian that gives advice based on the latest metabolic research rather than the out-dated and plain wrong advice given by our government, the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association.

The first mistake that Registered Dietitian Sherry Elford makes is that we should avoid saturated fat. This is pretty typical, because since Ancel Keys decided that Saturated Fat was bad for us, it has become gospel to Dietitians and Doctors as much as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are gospel to the Christians in this world. Now, if you're read Taubes, you'll know that there's not a shred of scientific evidence that Saturated Fat or Cholesterol has anything to do with heart disease. Heart disease has to do with inflammation which is probably caused by excess consumption of carbohydrates.

The next mistake made is that she says that "sodium raises bad cholesterol and plaque buildup in arteries increases." I'm assuming she means that cholesterol causes plaques in artery walls, which is wrong (and not that sodium does, which would also be wrong). However, her first premise, that sodium raises bad cholesterol is wrong. It doesn't. However it can LOWER good cholesterol. A five minute search on Science Direct found a study of sixty five men whose HDL cholesterol (the supposed "good" cholesterol) decreased with sodium restriction and had no statistical effect on overall cholesterol. Why aren't these "journalists" and "registered dietitians" doing their job by doing research? I'm not even a scientist and I can find this stuff!

"Short term dietary sodium restriction decreases HDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein A-I and high molecular weight adiponectin in healthy young men: Relationships with renal hemodynamics and RAAS activation" in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases

On top of that, there is another study that showed that salt restriction may increase insulin resistance and lowers cholesterol as well.
"As a result, insulin C-peptide increased by 40% (p = 0.0001) whereas glucose rose by 6% (p = 0.02). Total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol concentration were reduced by 6% (p = 0.001), 12% (p = 0.008) and 11% (p = 0.004) respectively. HbAlc, serum triglycerides, total/HDL-cholesterol ratio, urine catecholamines and VMA were unchanged during the trial. It is concluded that salt restriction may increase insulin resistance in hypertensive patients."

"Salt restriction and increased insulin production in hypertensive patients" from the Scandanavian Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation, 1994, Vol 54, No 5, pages 405-409

And another study that said pretty much the same thing. And another. In case you aren't paying attention, insulin resistance is very bad. It's a precursor to diabetes. It's associated with weight gain. And these "nutritionists" are advocating something that may cause it.

Also, let me say that lowering choleterol is bad, despite whatever dogma you may have been indoctrinated with. Cholesterol is a vital substance required for life. It's essential for the structural integrity of cellular membrane walls and your brain uses it in your neural synapses. Without it, you wouldn't be alive. Cholesterol is found in arteriosclerotic plaques probably because it's trying to repair the damage.

Lastly, Ms. Elford "recommends soy foods." Elford fails to mention that soy may inhibit thyroid function, which is a very important part of your metabolism. Soy also contains phytoestrogens, which mimic estrogen. Now, whether or not this is harmful remains to be seen. I don't think that some *unprocessed* soy in small quantities would be harmful. However, the American public is getting much more than a small quantity of unprocessed soy. They put soybean oil (sometimes soy flour) in bread (even "healthy" looking bread), in some cereal, in crackers, they put it in just about anything that it will go in. You don't have to look far to find something with soy in it. About the only way to avoid all this soy is to make your own food from scratch and/or eat low carb. The soybean manufacturers must do something with all the soybean they grow. After all most Americans don't eat very much tofu.

The thing is, these people recommend to you a course of action to take, and it could be at the expense of your health. The Buddha said, believe nothing, even if I have said it. That goes here too. It's up to everyone to investigate what they should be eating, what will be healthiest, because most of the journalists aren't going to do it, and the nutrition "experts" certainly aren't going to do it.

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