Quite a few readers have lamented in comments or emails that their family and friends think they’re nuts for living on a high-fat/low-carb diet. Yes, it’s discouraging, but I understand where the family and friends are coming from. Just look at the kind of health advice they see in the popular media. Here are some recent examples.
Bacon Will Kill You
You know you’re in for some head-bang-on-desk moments when a registered dietician writes an article titled The Truth About Bacon.
There seems to be an epidemic spreading through America known as Bacon-Gate!
What used to only be served with eggs at the breakfast table has slowly transitioned into more unconventional uses. Bacon is now offered in ice cream, wrapped around hot dogs, shrimp, and even dates.
For the record, I never tried to wrap any of my dates in bacon. Not even Chareva — although on our first date, she tore into an Italian sausage with such gusto, perhaps I should have at least floated the idea.
You can find it in gourmet chocolate bars, infused in mayonnaise or jams, and countless other concoctions.
So the article starts on a positive note. But you can guess what’s coming next.
Unfortunately, while its popularity is on the rise, so are concerns regarding the potentially harmful effects this salty staple can have on your health.
I agree … the rise in concern about people eating bacon is unfortunate.
The fact is, bacon is not good for you, especially if you are at risk for certain health conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure.
Here we go … a reference to arterycloggingsaturatedfat coming in 3-2-1 ..
The high fat content (68 percent of its calories comes from fat, almost half of which is saturated or artery-clogging, and one strip can contain up to 3.5 grams of fat), high sodium (one medium slice contains 150mg), and high cholesterol (30mg per ounce, about 4 slices). Cured bacon contains nitrates, and according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nitrates in food have been linked with cancer.
The high fat content of bacon is the reason I eat it. Yes, almost half is saturated, and most of the other half is monounsaturated, which is the kind of fat that’s supposed to make olive oil so wonderful for us. All the saturated fat will do to you is raise your HDL … and make you happy to be alive in a world where there are pigs.
There are ways you can still enjoy bacon (in moderation, of course) and minimize its potentially unhealthy effects.
Yeah. Don’t eat it with bread.
Keep in mind that traditional pork bacon has some plusses: It is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, including B6, B12, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, as well as choline, a nutrient which helps improve cognitive performance, memory, mood and mental alertness.
So bacon is jam-packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals that are good for you, but it’s also bad for you because it’s high in fat. Here’s a wacky idea: maybe there’s a reason Mother Nature put all those vitamins and minerals in fatty meats and then made fat taste delicious to humans.
The rest of the article goes on to suggest trying “healthier varieties” such as turkey bacon. I have. All it did was make me feel guilty for killing a turkey for no good reason.
Sugar and starch are shockingly good for you
The Eat This Not That guys are often near the top of my list of annoying people. An online article titled 20 Shockingly Healthy Restaurant Foods left me freshly annoyed.
Good news: Amid the sea of fat-soaked failures that pervade the menus of newer major restaurant and fast-food chains, we uncovered some remarkably smart choices.
Here are just a few samples of the remarkably smart (but not fat-soaked!) choices they recommend.
Arby’s Super Roast Beef sandwich. Just like a hamburger, this sandwich is piled with lettuce, tomato, and onion. The difference is that Arby’s replaces the beef patty with roast beef, which clears off enough excessive fat to make room for indulgent sides or dessert. If this were a burger, you could expect it to weigh in with at least 600 calories.
This is remarkably smart because it only contains 17 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat, ya see. They didn’t mention the carbohydrate content, so I looked it up: 40 grams, pretty much all from a white-flour bun.
Ben & Jerry’s frozen yogurt (1/2 cup). Frozen yogurt shops are all the rage right now, but Ben & Jerry’s has been quietly pumping out low-fat fro-yo for close to 2 decades. Skip the restaurant dessert and swing by here instead. Top a cup with chopped nuts and fresh fruit for one of the finest desserts you’ll ever encounter.
Only three grams of fat! (Why do I feel like I walked into a Seinfeld re-run?) There are also 23 grams of sugar – in a half-cup. That almost equals an 8-ounce Coca-Cola. Yup, remarkably smart.
The article recommends more remarkably smart choices like macaroni and cheese, chicken wraps, burritos, pancakes and even a big ol’ Oreo cookie – but one that’s not too high in fat. The takeaway message: as long as you limit your fat and total calories, everything else is remarkably smart.
Junk food and Alzheimer’s
I’m glad researchers are recognizing Alzheimer’s as a form of diabetes, but an article titled The New Junk Food Danger — Dementia? manages to give the exact wrong impression about what causes diabetes.
Not only does junk food make you fat, but it could cause dementia. New research shows that our calorie-laden diet boosts risk for dementia, a memory-robbing disorder some experts now call “type 3 diabetes.”
In fact, a shocking new study reports that teenagers who eat a diet that’s high in fat and calories already show “accelerated cognitive decline.” The researchers blame rising rates of dementia on our increasingly unhealthy eating habits and couch potato lifestyle.
Excuse me, but how many teenagers do you know who eat a diet that’s high in fat and calories but low in sugar and refined starches? After that opening, you’d wonder if the writer has any clue about the insulin connection. But lo and behold, the next section of the article is subtitled …
The Insulin Connection
While it’s long been known that type 2 diabetics are at higher risk for memory loss, another new study found that damage to key brain areas involved in memory and cognitive skills starts when blood sugar hits the high end of the “normal” range, even when other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and alcohol consumption are taken into account.
So it’s all that dietary fat pushing blood sugar to the high end of the normal range, is it? I’d better order another glucose meter. Mine’s clearly malfunctioning, since it tells me it’s carbohydrates that spike my blood sugar.
“Americans are literally eating a ‘diabetes diet’ that’s very toxic to the brain and other vital organs,” says Dr. Joel Zonszein, medical director of the diabetes clinic at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “And the one of the most terrible complications — brain damage — is occurring in younger and younger patients.”
Yes, diabetes has been on the rise for 30 years now. Hmmm … which foods did we start consuming in larger quantities during that span? Red meat? Eggs? Whole milk? Butter? Nope, consumption of all those fatty foods went down.
“Most people with insulin resistance graze all day on high-calorie foods,” says Dr. Zonszein. “What they should do is eat three heart-healthy, low-fat meals a day with colorful fruits and vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, and lean protein, such as fish or chicken, on their plate.”
Ahh, yes, let’s put whole grains on our plates. Nothing keeps your blood sugar down like grains.
Also limit—or better still, avoid—sweet drinks, including fruit juice and sports drinks. A recent study shows that high-fructose sweeteners, in particular, may be driving the development of brain-harming microvessel disease.
Finally, one piece of good advice.
We need bread!
I’m always suspicious of articles written by anonymous reporters. This article in the U.K. Mail, titled Not a Grain of Truth, sounds as if it were written by someone from the bread industry — which it probably was.
Scientists dismiss 20 years of warnings that bread is responsible for fatigue, stomach pain, bloating and headaches
People are going without vital vitamins and minerals that are contained in each loaf
From hot buttered toast to the simple sandwich, bread was once the staple of the British diet. But in recent years it has suffered from a serious image crisis and has become something of a health bogeyman, a food to be avoided and resisted.
Now nutrition scientists believe that most of the health alerts about consuming bread are myths.
I don’t care if you’re reading about nutrition, economics or global warming, whenever you see a blanket statement like “experts say” or “scientists believe,” you’re looking at an intentionally biased article. The factual statement would always be “some experts say” or “some scientists believe.” Pick any field, and the experts or scientists routinely disagree with each other. When reporters write “scientists believe,” they’re telling you what to believe, not what is. It’s just a weak appeal to authority.
Researchers at the British Nutrition Foundation said that people are instead going without vital vitamins and minerals that are contained in each loaf.
So let me get this straight … we should eat bread because we need the vitamins and minerals that government health agencies ordered to be added to bread so people wouldn’t suffer nutrition deficiencies from eating bread. Yeah, that makes sense.
And they have dismissed 20 years of warnings that bread is responsible for a range of symptoms, including fatigue, stomach pain, bloating and headaches. They also dispute that wheat allergies are on the increase.
Really? How exactly did those scientists dismiss warnings that bread can cause fatigue, bloating and headaches? Was there some kind of research involved here?
Lead researcher Dr Aine O’Connor said that despite a massive downturn in bread consumption, Britain’s obesity crisis is the biggest in Europe and continues to worsen.
Yes, consumption of sliced bread has fallen, but consumption of grains certainly hasn’t. People are eating their grains in the form of donuts, scones, pasta, pancakes, burritos, pizza, and Little Debbie Snack Cakes.
Dr O’Connor said that wheat allergies have not risen, but many people are now incorrectly convinced they suffer from wheat intolerance or an allergy to gluten (the protein found in wheat).
Strange, I seem to recall reading about a study in which scientists compared blood samples from 50 years ago to blood samples today and found that the rate of celiac disease really and truly has gone up – by a factor of four. How does a blood sample become incorrectly convinced to develop antibodies to celiac disease? I had no idea blood was so prone to hypochondria.
Since the anonymous bread-pushing reporter is quoting the British Nutrition Foundation as a source of unbiased expertise on the health benefits of bread, I went looking for information on the organization’s funding. Here’s what I found.
The British Nutrition Foundation, established more than 40 years ago, advises the Government, schools, industry, health professionals and the public. It says on its website that it exists to deliver “authoritative, evidence-based information on food and nutrition” and that it aims to be “world class in the interpretation and translation of complex science.”
However, the organisation’s 39 members, which contribute to its funding, include – beside the Government, the EU – Cadbury, Kellogg’s, Northern Foods, McDonald’s, PizzaExpress, the main supermarket chains except Tesco, and producer bodies such as the Potato Council. The chairman of its board of trustees, Paul Hebblethwaite, is also chairman of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Trade Association.
Sounds like exactly the kind of unbiased organization media health reporters should rely on when they write articles telling us what’s good for us.
This is what we’re up against.
p.s. — I’m driving to Illinois tomorrow (Friday) to attend my 35th (holy @#$%!) high school reunion. I’ll check comments when I can, but I’ll be in the car most of the day.