Monday, February 18, 2013

Big fat memes, sugar sweet lies

Some of you might have seen David Gillespie's book "Big fat lies" in which this Australian "recovering corporate lawyer" as described by Penguin Books, exposes the myths and lies that have contributed to our modern epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome in the name of "health advice", sadly also dispensed by us doctors who were trusted to be informed. We were misinformed, and my point here is that the meme is a powerful thing once it catches on, even if it's false.

Some false memes are below.

"Fat makes you fat"  (false)

"Cholesterol is bad for your heart" (false)

"Sugar is pretty harmless" (false)

"Polyunsaturated fat is better than saturated fat" (probably false.. I certainly believe so) Update 2017. This is far more complex than I thought in 2012 (even then I thought I had a handle on it) I'm now less interested in macronutrient truths than dietary pattern truths, and this statement may be more true than false.. more on this if I get around to it. In the meantime.. stick to "eat real food, not too much, mainly plants" as per Michael Pollan.

"Fruit juice is good for you" (probably true if you limit it to a couple of mls- but false in any substantial quantities"

"If it's natural it must be good" (a gross oversimplification)

And for those with deeper medical interest....

"Cholesterol levels are a pretty good indicator of cardiovascular risk" (false)

"high HDL cholesterol levels are good for you" (false- it's HDL particle count that matters, HDL cholesterol levels can be seriously misleading)

"high LDL cholesterol levels are bad for you" (false- it's LDL particle count that matters- high LDL cholesterol levels can be seriously misleading)

So what went wrong? Are we such simple souls that simple explanations which are easily repeated are very attractive to us, to the point that it matters little if they are wrong? Obviously the policy makers, advertisers, politicians, media spokespeople, and your overpressured health professionals don't have the time to research properly what they are told, or to spend the time explaining something complicated to you!

At some stage I will follow this up with a more detailed exposition of what diet is probably healthy, but people have done this much better than I could ever do so...

Check out the following to start your research trail (I wouldn't recommend these if I hadn't checked out many of their assertions by going to the original studies)

David Gillespie's Sweet Poison and Raisin Hell websites. David has done an enormous amount of research and has applied his critical legal mind to everything he learns

What happens when cardiac surgeons (Dwight Lundell and Dr Miller) go searching for the reason we are sicker now after 20 years or more of sound preventive health care advice

Jimmy Moore's podcasts are fantastic. Another passionate inquisitive, intelligent person in search of answers in a very obfuscated field with politics, spin, profits and personal agendas at each turn.

Refined carbohydrates especially sugar and High fructose corn syrup- check out Paediatric Endocrinologist Robert Lustig's video.. contains a good primer on biochemistry when he discusses the metabolic load from a can of "soda" (lemonade to us)- interesting that it's as bad as a can of beer!

Long live the simple meme... even if by propagating it we don't live long ourselves!