Are the Food Police killing us?

by Kerry Cue

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Who are the Food Police? Epidemiologists. They juggle statistics and advise governments. They do good work with diseases. Where? Why? How?

But their diet advice is often iffy.

‘At best they can show only association, not causation. Epidemiological data can be used to suggest hypotheses but not to prove them.’

Nina Teicholz, The Government’s Bad Diet Advice, NYT, 20 FEB, 2015

So what are some of the backflips in Government dietary advice in recent years:

  • salt is not that bad
  • red meat is not that bad
  • fat is not that bad
  • and now, guess what, cholesterol is NOT THAT BAD.

See Why we eat ourselves crazy on this blog.

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The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s hysterical fear of fat in recent decades gave support to low-fat foods, which, because of their high-sugar content, may have significantly contributed to obesity and therefore other chronic diseases.

‘Over the past 50 years, we cut fat intake by 25 percent and increased carbohydrates by more than 30 percent, according to a new analysis of government data. Yet recent science has increasingly shown that a high-carb diet rich in sugar and refined grains increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease — much more so than a diet high in fat and cholesterol.’ Mark Bittman, How Should We Eat?, NYT, 25 FEB 2015.

Meanwhile, cholesterol has come in from the cold. All those eggs you didn’t eat and all those egg white omelets you did eat have not helped your cholesterol levels. The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommened that dietry cholesterol is not much of a problem. Mark Bittman, How Should We Eat?, NYT, 25 FEB 2015.

In other words, when dealing with the Food Police take their recommendations with a grain of salt, a lashing of cream, a scrambled egg and some leafy green vegetables (everyone thinks they’re a good idea).

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Why we eat ourselves crazy

by Kerry Cue

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dark green quote 1A big, juicy burger to anyone who knows what healthy eating is any more.

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Owen Jones, The Guardian, 22 May 2014

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Sibylesque Mad Professor labOnce all scientific research was filtered through the peer review process. Initial studies were tested by others and if the results could be replicated, they were eventually published in mainstream papers.

These days, to get funding, researchers release their results directly to newspapers. Later studies may show that the initial research was flawed but the damage is already done.

Here are 6 ways the healthy food message messes with our minds:

1.Oops! Crazy Professor (Superfood Claim Superbollocks)

2. Too many statisticians spoil the broth (Eat Meat and Die. Oops! Got the maths wrong.)

3. Seemed like a good idea at the time (Stop Oxidants? Stop Breathing! The Antioxidant Hoax)

4. Just made that one up (Drinking 8 glasses of water a day for Dummies),

5. Getting carried away with numbers again ( Winning the Salt Wars or Never Trust a statistician)

6. How marketing controls your mind (Would you eat a button? Millions do!)

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Superfood Claim Super Bollocks

by Kerry Cue

Navy Roman Border    Navy quote 1……..There is no “superfruit”.Navy quote 2

Alexandra Siferlin, The Truth about Antioxidants, Time,             6 AUG 2013.

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The superfood industry spruiks many dubious claims. The first super food, according to Brainpickings website, was spinach.

pic-1-popeye1Back in 1870, Erich Von Wolf , a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, he accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach from 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, to 35 milligrams.  It was corrected in 1937, but too late the myth was well established.

This study inspired the Popeye Cartoon character who gets  colossal strength eating cans of spinach.

Unfortunately, it was just a maths blooper. According to Iron Facts, University Health Center:

1 cup of raw spinach contains 1mg iron.

The University Health Center claims a woman, 15 to 50 years of age, needs to consume up to 33 cups of raw spinach a day. According to the USA National Institutes of Health a woman 50+ only needs 8 cups or 8mg of iron a day.

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Even the much praised blueberry is not very nutritious with only 3 major nutrients Vit C, Vit K and manganese.

Meanwhile, according to an article in New Scientist biochemist Barry Halliwell from the National University of Singapore the best approach to superfoods, antioxidants and diet is to: Stick to flavonoid-rich foods, red wine in moderation, tea, fruits and vegetables.

But the idea of there being superfoods is superbollocks!

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Eat Meat and Die. Oops! Got the maths wrong.

By Kerry Cue

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maroon quote-1Be a vegetarian. Give peas a chance.maroon quote-2

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Every time a study finds this or that food is good or bad for you they usually make one huge error. It’s called a SAMPLING BIAS. ( See Ben Goldacre @ TED Talks.)

Red wines good for you. Red wines bad for you. Red wine causes cancer. Ditto coffee etc. What’s going on?

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One newspaper article screamed ‘Cancer a risk for lovers of red meat’. So Real Men Eat Meat and Die. There are many good arguments for being a vegetarian, this does not include health statistics.

This claim was made but the article did not explain the maths. Big meat eaters tend also to be big drinkers and smokers, who are obese, unfit and the rest. This study has tried to separate out meat eating from other unhealthy lifestyle choices using the Cox Regression. Mathematical wizardry has produced these numbers but they don’t mean much.

If the study used a control group of unfit, drinking, smoking, obese vegans then comparing mortality rates over 10 years would be interesting. But where do you find half a million of them????????

 

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Stop Oxidants? Stop Breathing! The Antioxidant Hoax

by Kerry Cue

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Evidence gathered over the past few years shows that, at best, antioxidant supplements do little or nothing to benefit our health. dark red quote 2

Lisa Melton,The antioxidant myth: a medical fairy tale, New Scientist, 05 August 2006.

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Eat. Pray. Breathe Oxidants.

We breathe oxygen. The oxygen is carried around our body by red blood cells. And, guess what? Oxygen is an oxidant. It ‘burns’ or ‘oxidises’ fuel in our cells. We get energy. The red blood cells then carry the carbon dioxide produced by oxidation back to our lungs and we breath it out. Sometimes, these oxidising reactions are incomplete producing free radicals or, as scientists like to call them, Reactive Oxygen Species, ROS.

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Lisa Melton attacked the popular belief that anti-oxidants have magical health benefits in the New Scientist. In the article biochemist Barry Halliwell from the National University of Singapore explains that “One per cent of the oxygen we consume turns into ROS.” Other free radical producing factors include X-rays, smoking, air pollutants, bacteria and intensive exercise. When subjects with diets high in fruit and veg were found to suffer lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, stroke and some cancers the theory that antioxidants mop up free radicals was born. It has sponsored a $US 23 Billion supplement industry and that is not even including superfoods.

According to Melton ‘Time and again, however, the supplements failed to pass the test. ‘True, they knock the wind out of free radicals in a test tube. But once inside the human body, they seem strangely powerless.’ Evidence suggests that sometimes anti-oxidants can even do harm. One study involving 18,000 subjects had to be stopped when researchers found the cancer rates rose in those given beta carotene supplements.

Even antioxidants should be consumed in moderation.

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Drinking 8 glasses of water a day for Dummies

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Navy quote 1You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him water ski.

ff………….Kerry Cue, Sibylesque (Just made that one up to be annoying)

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Even as I write these lines some self-proclaimed health adviser will be insisting that for optimum health you should drink 8 glasses of water a day.

This assumes two things:

1. You are incapable of deciding if you are or are not thirsty. Answer this question. What day is it? Correct. As you do not appear to have dementia, you will remember to drink fluids.

2. That 8 glasses is the correct fluid intake for you. How do they know?

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Meanwhile, the claim that you need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day has been debunked.

Drs. Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb at the University of Pennsylvania reviewed published clinical studies on the topic and found no data to suggest people need to stick to the “8 x 8″ rule.

“Indeed, it is unclear where this recommendation came from,” they write in an editorial in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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Winning the Salt Wars or never trust a statistician!

by Kerry Cue

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“There is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake.”

Navy quote 2f………….Cochrane Collaboration, 2003

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Stop the maths and pass the salt!

salt and pepper wizards   eBbayIn 2006, the New York Times article titled ‘The War over salt’, Melanie Warner (13 Sept 2006) reported that the American Medical Association, AMA, had called on the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, to limit the amount of salt in food. This was the first time the AMA had called for the regulation of a food ingredient.

The article stated: ‘In 2004, researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published a study in The American Journal of Public Health concluding that 150,000 lives could be saved annually if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were cut in half.’

Hold that thought.

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In 2011, the Scientific American ran this headline : It’s Time to End the War on Salt. ( Melinda Wenner Moyer, 8 JUL 2011)

Meta-studies by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international, independent, not-for-profit health care research organization concluded as early as 2003 “there is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake.” Moreoever, the Cochrane Institute found that reducing salt intake does not reduce blood pressure significantly. The groups hypersensitive to salt include some elderly and some Afro-Americans.

Hillel Cohen, an epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine noted ‘A great number of promises are being made to the public with regard to this enormous benefit and lives saved’, but it is ‘based on wild extrapolations.’ That’s simply bad maths!

In other words, take extreme recommendations about your salt intake with a grain of salt.

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How marketing controls your mind or, would you eat buttons? Guess what? Millions do.

by Kerry Cue

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I’m on a maroon quote-130 day diet, so far I’ve lost 15 days.dark red quote 2

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Button sandwich anyone?

casein button 2 etsyThe chemistry I studied at university long, long ago included the industrial uses of casein. Now casein is the protein in milk. It is used to make buttons.

Traditionally, buttons were made from shells, wood, metal, glass and bone. The advantage of casein is that it can be moulded and coloured. (See Plastics Historial Society for the history of casein buttons.)

Casein buttons, buckles and knitting needles were first produced in the UK in the 1914 and continued through until the 1980s!!!! Casein buttons are still manufactured in small batches today.

creepy kid   grilled cheesery blogNow cheese consists of three major ingredients.: fat, protein and water. If you remove the fat, then all you have left is the protein, casein, and water. If you place a piece of low fat cheese in the sun to dry our all you have left is the casein (and some fat). It is a little rubbery. Pop it into a solvent (Nail polish remover. That sort of thing.) to remove the residual fat. Bingo! You get a button.

Of course, the marketing folk want us to believe that low fat cheese is healthy. But,would you eat a button?

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Photo Source:1.  etsy, 2. grilled cheesery blog.

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The Diet Riot

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Navy quote 1My Diet Plan: Make all my friends cup cakes.Navy quote 2

The fatter they get, the thinner I look.

ff………….Coffee Mug

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This is the latest diet … it’s so mathematical, but so out of proportion.

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