Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Thoughts on Potatoes


Low carbohydrate diets often restrict potatoes, one of the mainstays of the American diet.  A month or so ago, potatoes were in the news due to the fact that the head of the Washington State Potato Commission, Chris Voigt ate nothing but  potatoes for two months in order to promote the nutritional value of the vegetable.  H e had them for all meals (about 20 potatoes a day) in a variety of ways with no toppings (sour cream, butter, etc).  He did use seasonings and oil for cooking.

Perhaps he was inspired by Horace Fletcher who lived in the 19th century, promoted “Fletcherism” and was called “The Great Masticator.   He was miserable because he was overweight and often suffered from chronic indigestion.   He thought that by chewing food for at least 30 times until it turned to liquid would have a positive effect in weight reduction and general health and well being..   Some of his proponents were Upton Sinclair, Henry James, Mark Twain and John D. Rockefeller.

Horace performed many experiments by challenging Yale athletes to strength and endurance tests and often out-performed them. He attributed his success to his dietary practices.  Another experiment of Horace was to eat only potatoes for 58 days for reasons unknown.  In a later publication, John Harvey Kellogg describes the potato regimen in his book, “Autointoxication or Intestinal Toxemia” and reported good results for renal disease.  I can find nothing more about other results.

From the media, one may think that the potato is the new diet food.  People who have lost weight on a low-carbohydrate diet with no potatoes or pasta, might expect to gain weight following an all potato diet. But Voigt lost 21 pounds and dropped his cholesterol by 67 points.  In addition his blood glucose, blood pressure, and triglycerides all decreased significantly.  It should be pointed out that almost all weight loss does result in lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure.  So one should not consider the potato as a magic weight loss food.  Voigt aptly points this out in interviews.   As most people realize, eating only one food can become very monotonous and cannot be sustained for very long as Voigt can attest to.  He resorted to soaking a potato in pickle juice and his wife even made potato ice cream.

The same can be said about the Twinkie diet of Mark Haub, a professor of nutrition at Kansas State University.  He did include a proteins shake and some greens, but otherwise ate Twinkies for 2 months.  He lost 27 pounds and had positive effects on his cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

I wonder if this could work with cheesecake???


4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Potatoes

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