By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
The baby boomers need to listen to their grandparents and we need to stop taking dietary advice from the baby boomers. Somehow temporarily we got confused about diets and thought certain real foods were bad and processed foods were better...
"Remember when eggs were bad for us before they were good for us? Or when certain heart disease was the devil’s bargain we made for loving a good cheeseburger? You may be excused for the vertigo you experience from all the flip-flops, twists and turns written over the years about the goodness or badness of any number of foods. For all of the “scientific” studies of nutrition and health, the bottom line is that we know something about the food we eat. But truthfully, the science behind what we ingest and how it affects our health is in its infancy.
There are numerous reasons why we are get conflicting information, partly because of how some journalists interpret scientific reports. Most reputable research papers are broken down the same way. There is an introduction/background, a methods section explaining how the research was performed, a results section, discussion/conclusion, and finally a summary. Journalists for the most part, not being scientists and on tight deadlines, read only the summary, which may have less scientific jargon and be more readily digestible than the rest of the paper. Many a journalist has fallen prey to accepting the summary without delving into the particulars. The result is a headline that screams Coffee Is Great for Your Health! when it should have said Coffee Is Great for Your Health—If You are Middle Class, Have Health Insurance, Don’t Smoke, Exercise, and Your Parents Don’t Have Cancer!
The problem is not always the journalism. Some studies are deeply flawed. Other studies cannot be duplicated and are therefore discredited. Sometimes the sample of people studied is too small. And then there are the studies sponsored by industries that have vested interests in the outcome."
Eggs - The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol. Recent studies conclude there is no evidence that dietary cholesterol results in plaque building up in your arteries.
Saturated fat/red meat - From the early to mid-20th century, we were encouraged to consume lots of meat because it was a great source of protein, B vitamins and numerous other nutrients. However, in the 1960s, studies began to link saturated fat with heart disease and cancer. This has caused much confusion where people assume meat and fatty foods must be more dangerous than desserts or soda. Or meat is the problem in fast food and not everything else. In 2014, a study out of Harvard, comprised of over one million people, found no link between the consumption of unprocessed red meat and either heart disease or diabetes. Another study out of Europe of over 450,000 individuals came to the same conclusion.
There was however a link between processed meats and disease. Only buy quality meats if you can.
Butter - It's been in the news a lot lately. Butter is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K2, and actually raises the good HDL level in your blood, while lowering the bad LDL. A 2012 study concluded there was no correlation between high fat dairy and obesity. It was replaced with foods high in trans-fats like margarine and vegetable oil. Get unsalted grass-fed butter.
Coffee - Many of the previous studies about it's harmful effects were flawed, not taking into account things like smoking. For many Americans, this is their main form of antioxidants. Good coffee has many healthful properties, I recommend only buying arabica beans that are wet processed and single sourced. Grind your own beans if you can.
Avocados - Only a few decades ago the avocado was considered just as bad as red meat. Now across the board, from vegans to omnivores, the recommendation is to eat as much as you want.
Worse Than We Thought
Sugar - From early 20th century to now, it's been considered unhealthy. There has been consistent evidence linking sugar to obesity, cholesterol, and disease. Sugar breaks down into fat, whereas for a few decades we believed dietary fat was what turned into fat in the body. The tricky part is, people think they are protected if they avoid foods that are obviously sweet. Sugar is hidden in all types of food, whether it is sweet or not. Even "health" foods are loaded with sugar. To add some clarity, sugar is a broken down form of carbohydrates. For years, if you avoided something with dietary fat, and it didn't taste sweet, people thought it was food for you. Now we know those types of man-made foods are the least healthful. The other psychological link is, when people avoid fats, they naturally increase their sugar intake. That was an indirect consequence of the low-fat era, which has been linked to the exponential rise in obesity and diabetes.
(h/t Alternet. Paraphrased and modified. Photo courtesy of TotalNOMS.)
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My name is Sam Yang. I'm a martial artist, entrepreneur, fitness nerd, information geek, and productivity nut. For more useful information, join my newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.