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Deceptions in the Food Industry: Books & Diet Plans from “Experts”

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One of the most flagrant deceptions in the food industry comes from “experts” shelling out advice to frustrated consumers who are tired of being sick and overweight.
 
I’ve just been reviewing some of the recipes and recommendations from Personal Trainer Bob Harper’s The Skinny Rules. On the Today Show, he talks about how our battle with obesity requires “a set of rules to live by.”
 
Diet and nutrition books are a dime a dozen in the marketplace and most of them are complete bunk.
 
According to a CDC study from 2010, more than one third of U.S. adults are considered obese.  This is not a new problem, and in fact, it’s only been worsening over the last 50+ years. These books continue to pour out of publishing houses, and so-called experts spout out their “wisdom” to teach people how to lose weight and get healthy.
 
And yet disease and obesity rates continue to rise.
 

What have we learned from diet books?

In the 1970s The Atkins Diet emerged (from Robert Atkins), and reappeared again in the 1990s as a way to combat weight and health issues by eschewing carbohydrates and eating more protein.
 
The South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston was all the rage in the early 2000s which told dieters avoid white flour, sugar, and potatoes (sounds good, right?), and eat meat, cheese, vegetables, nuts, fish and other foods. He also recommending watching calories, daily exercise, emphasized “lean proteins” and “healthy fats” such as soy-based and regular mayonnaise, vegetable oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and corn oil. His recommendation to avoid hydrogenated oils is certainly wise, but putting lard or bacon grease and butter on the avoid list is a big thumbs down.
 
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. has published a variety of books on health and nutrition such as 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. Like most of his conventional cohorts, he has poo-pooed saturated fats and cholesterol for years. Recently, he changed his advice and now says he no longer recommends low-fat dairy products. This is based on numerous studies. One showed that trans-palmitoleic acid – naturally found in dairy foods, could be linked to a substantial reduce in risk of of type 2 diabetes (which also lowers the risk of heart disease.
 
Two other studies from the Harvard School of Public Health (yes, the same source that announced in March of this year that red meat was associated with a higher mortality rate) found that those consuming low-fat dairy had a higher incidence of failure to ovulate in women, and drinking skim milk was associated with acne in teenage boys.
 
While Dr. Weil does recommend eating food from good, organic sources, but still does not endorse saturated fat fully and says to consume it with caution.  This is yet one more practitioner who won’t admit the fact that saturated fats and cholesterol are vital to health.
 

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Vegetarian and vegan diets have been popular in certain segments of the population since the 1960s, and are advocated by many mainstream health and medical sources.
 
The non-profit group PETA (People for the Ethical Protection of Animals) has for decades pushed the notion that a Vegan Diet is the way to maintain health.  The Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) states the following: “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
 
There are also many groups and dietary experts recommending that we go meatless to benefit our health, animal welfare, and the environment.  Organizations such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization believe the culprit of emissions from man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for the impending acceleration of climate change. The USDA has tips on becoming a vegetarian with recommendations on how to obtain nutrients and protein from highly processed foods with toxins and additives such as consuming soy milk and supplements for calcium or cereal or veggie burgers for iron and B12.
 
The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Dr. Neil D. Barnard is a current popular plant-based diet plan, as is Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman. There’s also The Kind Diet by actress Alicia Silverstone. All of these recommend avoiding meat and animal products.
 
There are a growing number of actors and celebrities who at one time embraced Vegan and Plant-Based Diets for periods of time, and are now coming back to meat-eating because of health issues. Ginnifer Goodwin, an actress who was vegetarian for some years was interviewed on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2011 and admitted she ate chicken eggs from an organic farm and that it was the best thing she had tasted in years.  Jude Law, Madonna, Orlando Bloom, and Ginnifer Goodwin, Mariel Hemingway are other celebrities who have at one time maintained a vegetarian or vegan diet have since returned to eating meat.
 
For a good explanation of the benefits of grassfed meats from healthy animals, read my post The Grassfed Meat Challenge: Busting Myths About Meat.
 

Gluten-free diets

Then there are the slew of books which recommend a Gluten-Free Diet (sounds good, right?) and adapting some  ”alternative” dietary habits. These gurus advise people who suffer from IBS, colitis, Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis, celiac disease and related issues to abandon gluten and adapt a number of equally bad dietary habits. Eating for IBS by Heather Van Vorous and Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern are two which come to mind.
 
These books advocate eating processed breads, grains, flours, and other toxic products such as rancid vegetable oils like canola, egg whites and low-fat foods, soy or rice milk..and, I even saw a recipe on Gluten-Free Girl’s site which recommends using vegetable shortening or Crisco. Eh gads!
 
Little do the unsuspecting, long-time suffering people of these disorders realize their suffering is far from over if they consume these foods which they are told are “safe” by these “experts”.
 
And yet despite all these diet books handed to us by the diet experts, gurus, doctors, personal trainers, dietitians, and weight-loss aficionados – the majority of them telling us to eat low-fat diets, count carbs and calories, eat more fiber, and exercise our brains out, our population is unhealthier and fatter than ever.  With so many conflicting messages from the media, the health industry, and medical doctors…
 

What’s a dieter to do?

Here’s the hard and fast truth: most of these plans and recommendations won’t work. The reason why is because the foods many of the foods we are told to eat are artificial, full of chemicals, and our bodies cannot gain nourishment from them. Those foods we are told to avoid, like saturated fat and cholesterol, are critical to health!
 

Here’s why this latest diet book won’t improve your health or help you lose weight:

1. He counts calories.

You should NEVER count calories. No one until the modern era ever did this. Your body needs food until it is full and it needs real calories to be healthy and function properly. If you  eat real food, your body will know when to stop and it will get exactly the amount of calories it needs.

 

2. He says nothing about the source of the food, whether it’s conventional or sustainable and organic.

The source is EVERYTHING. If you eat conventional food, you will continue to have health and weight problems because conventional food is altered, processed, and full of toxins and chemicals. It also has reduced nutritional content because of the way it is produced and grown. Organic, sustainable foods from natural, traditional sources of food contain more vitamins and minerals, saturated fats, carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, co-factors, and all your body needs. Numerous studies reveal organic foods are more nutritious than conventional (here’s one, and here’s another).

The reason why conventional meat is so bad for us is because of the way it is produced. Read this post about meat recalls, pink slime, drug-resistance, and why this problem happens because of farming and production practices. Did you know that last year, 1 in 4 packages of meat was found to be tainted in samples taken by researchers? Yes, it’s more of the same – meat from filthy, factory-farm sources. You won’t have that problem with clean, sustainable meat from healthy animals and birds on pasture.
 
Of particular importance in this situation is the quailty of the soil – the foundation of where all life begins. This is why conventional foods are inferior because the soil and bacteria quality of the foods is greatly diminished due to the toxic methods used in farming.
 

3. He recommends low-fat foods.

Low-fat foods have had all the natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, co-factors, etc. removed and should be considered processed foods in every sense.
 
If you eat low-fat foods, you won’t get full. You will constantly be hungry and continue to have weight issues and health problems. I talked to a man last week in Las Vegas who said his doctor told him to go on a low-fat, plant-based diet. I asked him how that was working out. He said, “so-so”. Then I asked him, “are you getting full on that diet?” He replied, “no, I am always hungry. I have to eat like 7-8 times per day.”
 
We’ve been told for many years that saturated fat is harmful for our health.  But even in the infamous Framingham Heart Study involving 5,200 men and women who have undergone extensive studies in well over 1,000 published reports since 1948, high cholesterol levels were not associated with increased heart disease risk after age 47.  In fact, after age 47, those whose cholesterol had decreased were at the highest risk of having a heart attack. “For each 1 mg/dl drop of cholesterol there was an 11 percent increase in coronary and total mortality,” was the report from the authors of the  study.
 
For more information on the fallacies of low-fat diet recommendations, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation site and read about The Skinny on Fats.
 

4.  He says to only eat grains at breakfast and lunch, and avoid them at the nighttime meal.

Guess what, if you’ve got digestive issues like most people, those grains are just going to add to your yeast, weight and health issues. You might lose weight initially on this diet, but it will come back to haunt you eventually.
 
The best thing to do if you want to lose weight and improve your health is a protocol like GAPS from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. It provides ample nutrition that is badly needed by most malnourished bodies, and provides it in the most digestible forms possible. Read more on the truth about wheat and grains, and why grains may not be as healthy as we’ve been told they are.
 

5. He recommends eating protein with every meal, but not fat.

Protein binds to fat, so if you remove the fat but eat a lot of protein, you’ll be in trouble because you won’t be able to absorb the protein in what you are eating. Fat and cholesterol are essential to every single function in the body.
 

6. He says to drink a big glass of water before every meal…no excuses.

This is one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. If you are having weight and health issues, it’s likely that your stomach acid levels aren’t normal and drinking a bunch of water with meals is going to make that problem worse. He says it’s good for digestion, but drinking a large amount of liquid before or during a meal will only cause your digestion to become sluggish and will make absorbing the food you are eating more difficult.
 

More in the Deceptions in the Food Industry Series:

Low-fat

Lean meats

Omega 3s

Low-sodium and no salt added

All-natural

Baked versus fried

Whole grains

 

 

Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Deceptions in the Food Industry: Baked versus Fried

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In this continuing series of Deceptions in the Food Industry, I want to address yet another fallacy the food industry uses to make us think a product they sell is healthy – baked versus fried on labels. I know a lot of people who eat real food would never touch a bag of the above pictured products. But, I still see a lot of people in general eating these foods, and I see them sold in many places.

I frequently see packages of chips, crackers, or other packaged foods that read “baked” or “baked instead of fried” on the label. I also hear people say that when you bake something instead of fry it – even some home-made foods – it’s healthier.

When you honestly think about this statement, does it really make any sense? If the premise is that the food is healthier because it’s baked in the oven, that’s just plain wrong. Why would something be healthier just because it’s not fried?

If the premise is that fat is unhealthy, that’s also wrong. Don’t believe me? Read this article by cardiologist Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D., who admits the low-fat scam we’ve been fed by conventional health simply isn’t true.  Dr. Joseph Mercola also believes saturated fats are really important for health too. There’s also this blog post by Tim Ferriss with an explanation by bariatric doctors (those who treat obesity) Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Eades: 7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fats.

Over the last 50+ years, many people have associated fried with foods like french fries, battered items like fish, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken fried steak, tater tots, fried calamari, etc.  What  makes the food unhealthy is not that it’s deep fried. It’s the fact that it’s cooked in a highly processed oil that it is harmful to consume.

Here’s an explanation from eHow about why baked is healthier than fried:

“There really is no competition when it comes to weight loss. Fried foods, eaten regularly, will defeat all the hard work that you put into creating a healthy lifestyle. Baked foods, on the other hand, allow you to actually taste the food without contributing to an expanding waistline and a diminished quality of life. Just compare the calorie and fat content of a fried chicken drumstick (905 calories, 52.39 grams of fat) to a baked drumstick (110 calories, 10.1 grams of fat).”

Notice how the first explanation of why baked is healthier than fried never actually tells you why baked foods are healthier. It just talks about caloric amount and fat content. So according to this source, the act of baking causes less calories and less fat. Sorry, don’t buy it (see references above about why saturated fat is healthy for us to eat).  And the only way it could be less calories and fat is if less oil was used and the chicken was somehow reduced in fat content. I’m not sure if  the second is actually possible when it’s simply compared with cooking the same type of chicken by frying.  But we aren’t given that information, so the whole statement is misleading.

Here’s Livestrong’s explanation about why baking is healthier than frying:

“Just because a dish is prepared by baking doesn’t mean that it’s low in fat. The food may have a high fat content to start with, which is the case when it comes to animal products like meat and cheese. To eliminate excess fat from baked foods, prepare them in a dish that allows the oil to drain away, such as a roasting pan. Since animal skin is also high in fat, remove it before eating to further reduce calories in the dish.”

Now we’ve got a second explanation, which tells us that it’s the type of pan we cook our foods in, such as a baking dish, which allows oil to “drain away” and the fact that we should remove any excess fat from the animal product, to reduce its calories and therefore make it healthier.

The problem isn’t with calories or fat, it’s with the kind of fat and calories – most of which are industrial fats (probably some type of canola, soybean, or cottonseed oil) and factory-farmed chicken. We need fat and calories to keep us going, give us energy, keep our moods and blood sugar level, nourish our brains, nervous systems and cardiovascular system, conceive, nurse, and carry babies, and so that every cell in our bodies can function properly.

I’m always amused when medical web sites try to advise on nutrition. Physicians typically have no training in real nutrition, and the recommendations I’ve seen are usually wrong. They tell us to limit our calories, fat, portion sizes, eat more grains, vegetables, and exercise more.  They are also critical of animal fats, in particular red meat, and tell us it’s healthy to consume polyunsaturated fats for good heart health.

Let’s be real here. We’ve been told to eat this way for decades.  I frequently hear people complaining that they are hungry, are exercising themselves to death, and are still having weight and health problems.

Are disease rates going down? I think not! Here are statistics from the CDC on obesity, a strong predictor of general health decline.

I wrote a post about the dangers of polyunsaturated fatsHere’s an excerpt:

“Remember that many of the polyunsaturated fats are new fats that have only been around for just over a hundred years. Even though oils like cottonseed, soy, and others like corn, safflower, and sunflower have existed in plants, they haven’t been available in their current states on the grocery store shelves in bottles as sold in mass production. These oils are processed, refined, deodorized, and subjected to high heat temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats are very fragile and are denatured easily, while saturated fats have been used in cooking for thousands of years and have stood the test of time for consumption and overall good effect on health.

When you consider the history of humanity and how long people have eaten real fats like butter, lard, and tallow from animals and animal products, it’s pretty obvious what’s been causing the spike in cardiovascular and other health diseases since the industrial revolution.”

Because the foods are cooked in rancid, highly processed, deodorized, polyunsaturated that are manufactured under high heat temperatures, it really makes these oils as bad as the hydrogenated oils that food companies are now often fond of claiming are not contained in their products. Plus, when foods like potatoes, corn, and other foods including cereals, crackers, and breads – pretty much all starchy foods – are fried in these or really any oils, they become carcinogenic due to the acrylamides generated by the process of raising the temperature.

According to TruthAboutAbs:

“Acrylamides in foods were discovered in 2002 by Swedish scientists, and made some big headlines (at least in America) when they were first reported. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) really has not acknowledged the negative impact of cancer-causing acrylamides, and food manufacturers, so far, are not putting warning labels on their products concerning the levels of acrylamides, either.

Acrylamides are cancer-causing chemicals that are created when foods are grilled, fried, baked or roasted at fairly high temperatures.  It is thought that an amino acid found in starchy foods, changes its form when heated to become acrylamide. High-temperature cooking methods, such as frying, baking, or broiling, have been found to produce the most acrylamides, while boiling and steaming produce far less.

The World Health Organization, (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that levels of acrylamides in certain foods pose a “major concern” and more research is needed to determine the dangers.

In one study, it was found that women who consumed 40 micrograms or more of acrylamides each day had twice the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer risk of women who ate foods with little or no acrylamides. 40 mcg is the amount of acrylamides in a small portion of potato chips.”

The chemical storm that makes up processed foods

There are also a lot of other undesirable ingredients in these foods as well…refined table salt, soy lecithin, sugar, corn syrup, and corn starch (the last 3 almost always from GMO sources). Over the last several years, reports have been increasing that this GMO substance contains mercury as well.

Even though companies like Lay’s Potato Chips, are now hitting heavy on marketing their products by emphasizing on the label that their chips only have 3 ingredients, guess what? As we’ve already shown, those ingredients are still some of the worst things you could put in your body!  Their web site says, “All natural oil” (sunflower and corn oil).  Again, these are polyunsaturated fats that are heavily processed under high heat, and like all polyunsaturated fats, are fragile and their bonds break down in those conditions.

Another problem is these oils are too high in Omega 6s. This is a major reason why we have so many health issues. Too many Omega 6s cause an inflammatory response in the body, and ultimately, disease.

A few weeks ago I noticed that food companies are now resorting to selling “chips” made from beans and other substances, as though somehow these are healthier than the potato and corn chips people have been eating for decades.  The ones I saw were black bean and lentil “chips”, once again baked, and touting various health claims on the package such as “no saturated fat”, “natural”, “healthy”, and of course, “baked”.

What kind of fat is are these products cooked in?  More of the same: polyunsaturated vegetable oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil. Sorry folks, this is still not healthy.

There are only two of these oils which have been around for many years and only one that people actually consumed in the historical past: sunflower and safflower oil. But these oils are most often expeller pressed and subjected to high heat, so they become rancid and should be avoided as well. Safflower oil was never used as an oil for consumption, it was instead used in industrial and commercial contexts such as for cosmetics, dyes, and painting.

The science behind why polyunsaturated fats are so unhealthy

If you eat these foods regularly, you might as well say hello to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune problems, and weight issues. Those substances build up calcium deposits in your body, and in particular, your arteries. This is one of the culprits of hardening of the arteries, or cardiovascular disease.  In 1994 a study published in the The Lancet revealed that nearly three quarters of the fat in artery clogs is unsaturated, with very little of it being from saturated fat.

The very nature of polyunsaturated molecules is that they are highly unstable. They have more than one double bond, and normally share those electrons with other atoms to enable the molecule to become stable and saturated. Oxygen is attracted to the extra electrons in the polyunsaturated molecule because it is absent two electrons in its outer shell, making it relatively reactive. The more unsaturated the molecule is, the higher the likelihood is of it being unstable at a faster rate. Heated polyunsaturated oils like canola, corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils become oxidized which causes rancidity.  Thus, saturated oils are the most stable and most suitable for cooking.

So, give up the very non-scientific notion that fat is bad for you to eat. And remember that despite the decrease in butter consumption per person annually of about 18 pounds in the earlier part of the 20th century to about 4 pounds per year in modern day, heart disease began increasing around that time and is still on the rise. What replaced butter and other animal fats like lard and tallow around that same time period was modern, polyunsaturated vegetable oils – and also white flour and sugar.

Read this post which tells the truth about cottonseed oil, how prevalent it was and still is, and how it was developed.

Have you read the other posts in my Deceptions in the Food Industry series?

Omega 3s

Low-sodium and no salt added

All-natural

Whole grains

Lean meats

More information:

The oiling of America – Weston A. Price Foundation

Cholesterol myth exposed

Fat Head the movie – exerpt

Gary Taubes – cholesterol and saturated fats 

Cholesterol-and-Health.com – Chris Masterjohn – web site with scientific discussions about why cholesterol and fat are healthy for us

Suggested Reading:

Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You – Uffne Ravnskov

Put Your Heart in Your Mouth – Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride