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Gary Taubes: Why Nutrition Is So Confusing

Published on February 18, 2014,

Writing in the New York Times, Gary Taubes has an interesting article asking why there is so much confusion about health and nutrition and suggesting we need to approach research differently – or at least be much more honest about its limitations. This is an extract…

download (1)…Since the 1960s, nutrition science has been dominated by two conflicting observations. One is that we know how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. The other is that the rapidly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes suggest that something about the conventional thinking is simply wrong.

In 1960, fewer than 13 percent of Americans were obese, and diabetes had been diagnosed in 1 percent. Today, the percentage of obese Americans has almost tripled; the percentage of Americans with diabetes has increased sevenfold.

Meanwhile, the research literature on obesity has also ballooned. In 1960, fewer than 1,100 articles were published on obesity or diabetes in the indexed medical literature. Last year it was more than 44,000. In total, over 600,000 articles have been published purporting to convey some meaningful information on these conditions.

It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them? The conventional explanation is that this is the manifestation of an unfortunate reality: Type 2 diabetes is caused or exacerbated by obesity, and obesity is a complex, intractable disorder. The more we learn, the more we need to know.

Here’s another possibility: The 600,000 articles — along with several tens of thousands of diet books — are the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment. Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong…

…One lesson of science, though, is that if the best you can do isn’t good enough to establish reliable knowledge, first acknowledge it — relentless honesty about what can and cannot be extrapolated from data is another core principle of science — and then do more, or do something else. As it is, we have a field of sort-of-science in which hypotheses are treated as facts because they’re too hard or expensive to test, and there are so many hypotheses that what journalists like to call “leading authorities” disagree with one another daily…

More at: Why Nutrition Is So Confusing

Success Story: Healthier at Age 44 Than 24: How Joe Lost 115 Pounds and Turned His Life Around

Published on December 12, 2013,

Mark Sisson has a success story on his Mark’s Daily Apple blog from Joe who has lost a whole load of weight and feels much better since first hearing Gary Taubes give a talk in 2011 and then embarking on a low carb ketogenic diet. Here’s an extract of some of the benefits Joe has been experiencing…

Joe before wwwmarksdailyapple.com

Joe before wwwmarksdailyapple.com

My energy, sleep quality, every aspect of my health and day to day feeling, is as good or better now at age 44 as it was when I was 24. Everything…yes, EVERYTHING – and now I am spending 80% less time “exercising”.

When others ask me, these are my highlights of why I will continue a Primal, nutritional ketosis lifestyle, and why I recommend others try it:

  • Incredible, deep, restful sleep – my sleep improved early on before I lost much weight; now I usually get up without an alarm and I feel great.
  • Constant stream of energy throughout the day, regardless of the timing of my last meal…I usually fast 12 – 20 hours several times a week, usually before exercise – I recently did three hours of powerlifting and bicycling after a 20 hour fast…just to see if I could – I felt great.
  • Mental focus consistent through entire day regardless of meal timing.
  • I lost 115 pounds on the scale in about a year, but more importantly, I have lost over 12 inches off my waist size; I am back to the same college and high school clothing size.
  • My headaches/migraines are gone! I’m off medicines for them. The relief of living without headaches makes everything better and this alone would be enough for me to recommend Primal.

    Joe after wwwmarksdailyapple.com

    Joe after wwwmarksdailyapple.com

  • I can still enjoy wine with friends – I stopped drinking beer and mixed drinks with carbs, but continued red wine with meals and whisky or wine on social occasions.
  • Neck, ankle, hip, and knee joint pains have disappeared – they went away rapidly, before most of the weight loss – makes me think that the inflammation was due to diet more than wear and tear from carrying extra weight.
  • Acne and oily skin has decreased 95% – never this close to normal ever in my life.
  • Years of scaly, cracked feet have completely resolved spontaneously; a massage therapist accused me of having a pedicure and exfoliation and having the best feet she has seen on a 40 year old man – I had not done anything other than shower.
  • My shoe size has decreased – I was size 11eee or 12 all my adult life. Now I’m 11 regular.
  • Two golf ball size sebaceous cysts on my back spontaneously dissolved in a few weeks.
  • Triglycerides lowered from very high levels down to 50 now.
  • LDL and small LDL particle size falling from very high to normal.
  • HDL from 30s to the 60s with low amount of exercise.
  • Fasting glucose from high 90s (pre-diabetes) down to low 80s (normal).
  • I had elevated ALT and AST most of my adult life – now liver function tests are normal.
  • For over 15 years I had episodic gastric reflux, stomach distention and constipation – this has completely resolved.

The majority of my 100 pound weight loss occurred while I was not exercising at all. I started exercising recently in the fall of 2012 (AFTER most of my weight loss). Despite plateaus of staying at the same weight for many weeks at a time, I have continually decreased my clothing size each month – I continue to gain strength, vascularity and muscular definition.

More at:  Healthier at Age 44 Than 24: How I Lost 115 Pounds and Turned My Life Around

Video: The Secrets of Sugar

Published on October 14, 2013,

Canadian tv’s CBC has broadcast an episode of the fifth estate which is a documentary investigation into sugar and its impact on consumers, now available on YouTube. It’s another powerful show taking the message to the mainstream…

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The programme considers the sugar “bliss point” used by the food industry to find the optimal amount of sugar required to maximize the appeal of any product, the amount of hidden sugar in common food products (even many labelled ‘healthy’), the correlation between sugar consumption, obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

It has a contribution from Dr Robert Lustig who explains that sugar has been “1,000 worse” for us than dietary fat and why it causes harm and also input from Gary Taubes on how the food industry has discredited those in the past who have questioned sugar.

There’s an interesting segment on cancer and suggestions of a link between sugar, diabetes and Alzheimer’s (which is called “diabetes of the brain”).

It won’t all be new to many readers of this site but it’s an excellent documentary and a great one to share on.

Top quote: “If I got these results [like with sugar] from a new food additive I think it would pretty quickly get pulled”..

More at: The Secrets of Sugar

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