Nutrition and Politics
If you have any doubts that nutrition advice has been skewed by politics, this article ought to banish them:
Peter Atwater points us to this 1960s relic from US president Lyndon B Johnson’s own battle with inflation, as recounted on page 96 of Robert Samuelson’s The Great Inflation and its Aftermath:
Shoe prices went up, so LBJ slapped export controls on hides to increase the supply of leather. Reports that color television sets would sell at high prices came across the wire. Johnson told me to ask RCA’s David Sarnoff to hold them down. Domestic lamb prices rose. LBJ directed [Defense Secretary Robert] McNamara to buy cheaper lamb from New Zealand for the troops in Vietnam. The President told the Council of Economic Advisers and me to move on household appliances, paper cartons, news print, men’s underwear, women’s hosiery, glass containers, cellulose, and air conditioners… When egg prices rose in the spring of 1966 and Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman told him that not much could be done, Johnson had the Surgeon General issue alerts as to the hazards of cholesterol in eggs.
Outstanding. Now if we can just find some way to jack up the price of wheat, we may finally hear some government warnings about the hazards of eating refined grains.
Diabetes Reversed by Diet
British researchers say they were able to reverse type 2 diabetes by putting subjects on an extreme diet:
The expert behind the study said the “remarkable” findings showed an eight-week diet could prompt the body to produce its own insulin. The breakthrough suggests a dramatic drop in calories has a direct effect on reducing fat accumulated in the pancreas, which in turn prompts insulin cells to “wake up.”
Experts at Newcastle University carried out an early-stage trial on 11 people with diabetes. They each followed a diet of liquid drinks (containing 46.4% carbohydrate, 32.5% protein and 20.1% fat, with vitamins and minerals) and non-starchy vegetables.
After just one week, pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal among the group. Over two months, insulin cell function in the pancreas increased towards normal and pancreatic fat decreased, as shown on MRI scans.
Three months later, after going back to normal eating with advice on portion control and healthy foods, seven people remained free of diabetes.
Readers sent me links to several online media articles about the study. All of them noted that the diet was extremely low in calories — about 600 per day — but the article I quoted above was the only one that listed the macronutrient percentages.
Some easy math tells us that 46.4% carbohydrate on a 600-calorie diet translates to about 70 carbohydrates per day. This was a low-everything diet, so it would be interesting to see what would happen if the researchers repeated the experiment with a higher calorie intake while still keeping the carbohydrates at 70 per day.
They’re after the fat toddlers again
The Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, has released a new report on childhood obesity, including recommendations for preventing it. Hold on to your hats, because this revolutionary advice will blow you away:
The kids need to eat less and move around more.
Okay, there’s a little more to it than that; they also recommend that mothers breast-feed babies for at least six months and make sure their toddlers are getting enough sleep. Good advice. But then they call on parents to limit their children’s portions. Bad advice. How the heck are parents supposed to know when kids have had enough food for the day? What if they’re in a growth spurt?
Feed the kids real food, restrict or eliminate the sugars and refined starches, then let their natural appetites do the rest. As I pointed out in a previous post, we never limit how much our girls eat, but they’re both lean and active. We just don’t feed them the kind of garbage that ramps up their appetites.
A reader who alerted me to the report also sent me a link to this:
Yeah, it’s funny. But give it five or ten years, and someone will probably be selling those things.