FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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The Obesity Epidemic: Nature or Nurture?

Fat shaming is found in many aspects of our culture. The obese are described as fat and lazy and looked upon with disdain by even some of the health professionals they seek out to solve many of their health care needs. Perhaps we need to examine the complexities of the interactions that may have contributed to this so-called obesity epidemic to gain a better understanding of what the obese population has to contend with.

In 1960, only 13.4 % of Americans were overweight or obese. By 1990, about 23% were obese, and today, only two decades later, almost 36% are obese. Obesity affects both men and women and all racial and ethnic groups. As far as we know, we still had the same genes and physiology during these decades; however, the food environment or culture had obviously changed.

“The interplay between genetics and lifestyle is often illustrated by the higher incidence of obesity in Pima Indians living in Arizona than in a genetically similar group of Pima Indians living in Mexico. When this genetic susceptibility is combined with an environment that fosters a sedentary lifestyle and consumption of a calorie dense diet, the outcome is the strikingly high incidence of obesity seen in this population. The Pima Indians of Mexico are farmers who work in the fields and consume the food they grow. On the other hand, the Arizona Pima eat the high-calorie, high-fat processed foods,  found in the Standard American Diet (SAD) and lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Both groups have  higher rates of obesity due to their genetic susceptibility; however, the average BMI or the Mexican Pima is significantly lower than that of their American counterparts.” Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications, Third Edition.

Check out my previous post HERE.

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The FODMAP Diet: Some Common Sense

 

As with any restrictive diet, caution must be used to avoid nutritional deficiencies.  That is why it is important to pay attention to a registered dietitian when embarking on any diet that restricts certain food groups. If a dietitian is not available, seek out the advice found in the following article from an expert on the FODMAP  diet. The best advice is if this diet approach does not produce any positive results, it may not be for you.

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The Teaching Kitchen

A new approach to promote nutrition and help curb the obesity/diabetes epidemic. Patients listen to their doctors – we need more involvement of increased nutrition education in medical schools and in the doctor/patient relationship. This also serves as a great opportunity for the  registered dietitian/nutritionist to work with the physician.

Interestingly, the first diet book was written by a female physician, Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters called “Diet and Health: With Key to the Calories.”

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MyPlate: A Makeover?

A few years ago the USDA brought out MyPlate that supposedly helped consumers use the Dietary Guidelines; however, critics felt it was influenced by politics and the food industry. Harvard has improved on this concept with The Healthy Eating Plate.

This makeover gives us so much better evidence-based diet advice at a glance. Give it a try.

 

 


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Canada’s New Food Guide: Amazing!

The new proposed Canadian food guidelines are amazing. Could they possibly happen here in the U.S without influence from the food industry –  Highly unlikely. Hope at least some of the Canadian guidelines can survive the food industry meddling and help to change the food culture into a healthier approach.

Read about them HERE.


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The Paleo Diet: Fad or Trend?

To define the Paleolithic diet is impossible. Our early ancestors lived in different environments and their diets had to be food that was available in those varied environments.  However, it is considered by Paleo enthusiasts to be protein-rich, with emphasis on grass-fed beef and fish rich in omega-3 fats. Carbohydrates should come from nonstarchy fresh fruits and vegetables. Since it is assumed  that our predecessors did not have access to cereal grains, legumes, dairy,  potatoes, or processed foods – they are not considered to be Paleo. The avoidance of processed food does contribute to this diet’s good points; however, however, it may be a bit restrictive (not so good).

The Paleo Diet is either a fad or a trend.  Here is a very comprehensive article on all the aspects of the diet – its pros and its cons.  No one diet is appropriate for all – the best diet is one  that you feel comfortable with and can make it a part of your lifestyle.

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Fighting Prostate Cancer with Food?

Plants contain phytochemicals

Nutrition and cancer associations have  been studied for years and unfortunately never have produced any practical, reasonable or consistent results as far as dietary therapeutic or preventive effects. Here are two interesting studies that at least suggest that maybe, just maybe, some cancer cells could be controlled by dietary phytochemicals from plant foods. The question remains as to just what combinations of these plant chemicals do the best job or are most efficacious and safe.

So what to do in the meantime? In my opinion, the take home message is to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits containing phytochemicals that work in a synergistic manner rather than individually. It appears that eating one type of food the media often labels “superfood”  for example, would probably have little effect on cancer cell destruction. That does help to explain why cancer research has not so far produced any promising dietary interventions. But stay tuned as we learn more. Be aware that dietary treatments for cancer have  dominated the area of nutrition quackery for decades.  There are few clinical trials available that test the diet-cancer hypothesis. For sure, cancer patients should not be reliant on untested cancer treatments from any source.

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An interesting video about this topic has been published from  Michael Greger, MD, FACLM on his website, NutritionFacts.org. To view this website and video:

CLICK HERE.