Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nonsense and illogical arguments

I came across this article in the Chicago Tribune this morning about how "nutritionists" hate the paleo diet and was very irritated. The pediatrician in this article first of all was a very poor source of information-- I hope he was just misquoted because he came across a complete idiot. Why they chose to interview a pediatrician about the paleo diet makes no sense anyway-- the article was not about children's nutrition (though paleo, with plenty of carbs from yams and fruit is perfectly healthy for kids). What made me positively irate was this comment: "people who eat grains enriched with folic acid have reduced risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Fortified grains "are cheap and there's no downside," he said." First of all, the only people who need to worry about spina bifida are women who are pregnant or may become pregnant-- you aren't going to suddenly get spina bifida at age 35 because you stopped eating grains-- it is a birth defect. Secondly, vegetables, particularly leafy green ones have SIGNIFICANTLY more folic acid/folate, which is more bioavailable and comes with way more other vitamins and nutrients than grains to which it is added (the government decided to add it to grains because people weren't eating enough vegetables-- let's cut out the middle man and just eat veg!). Third, fortified grains are REFINED carbohydrates-- whole grains are not required to be fortified. Even if you don't buy into the grain elimination aspect of paleo, most people with a clue about nutrition understand that refined carbohydrates are bad for you, and in excess lead to diabetes and likely heart disease. To say there is no downside is outrageous.

As for his other claims, that a teenage boy would not be able to afford this diet-- how many teenage boys buy their own food? And his insistence that dairy is important for everyone also bugs me-- as much as 75% of the population is lactose intolerant, and again, calcium can be obtained from many other foods.

His contention that most Americans are overweight because they overeat is overly simplistic-- if you look into why most Americans are overeating, it is because excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates cause hormonal changes that cause desire for even more carbohydrates. Numerous studies have shown protein is much more satiating then carbs, as is fat. Think about it-- most people can put away a pretty big plate of pasta or bread (ever eaten a whole loaf of bread while waiting for your dinner in a restaurant? I bet you still ate a good bit of your dinner). Then consider how many eggs or how much chicken you could eat in one sitting. WAY fewer calories because the protein/fat in the meat helps your body know when it's full. While everyone has a different tolerance level for carbs, eating a big plate of mainly refined carbohydrates for a meal is going to cause most people to either overeat, or be hungry again in an hour, if not both. (I know if I eat a mostly carb meal I still feel like eating even when I'm stuffed!) So yes, if you restrict calories you will lose weight, but it is a lot EASIER to restrict calories on a low to moderate carb diet than on a high carb diet because you don't get as hungry.

I don't have much of a problem with the dietitian's point about beans being a good source of fiber and protein, but again you can get plenty of fiber from any other fruit or vegetable and meat is a MUCH more efficient source of protein than beans, which do not contain all of the essential amino acids and for many people are difficult to digest.

Finally, I am irked by the idea that eliminating an entire "food group" is automatically unhealthy. The "food groups" were invented by the USDA, whose primary job is to promote agriculture in the US. Guess what crops we grow a lot of? Grains! Those same dietitians who freak out about eliminating the "grain food group" also tend to applaud people for becoming vegetarians. This seems ironic to me-- we are all going to die if we eliminate grains because they are a food group, but eliminating meat, also a food group, is totally acceptable. Do you know what farmers feed animals when they want to fatten them up quickly? Lots of low fat grains.

There is your rant for the day.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

THANK YOU for this well written, informative, clarifying post!!! I'll def be coming back for more. Great work!! James and I over at will be sure to share more of this with our fans!