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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

 

 

Activism Guest Posts Healthy Living Real Food

An Inheritence Squandered

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Today I am excited to share a guest post from Lauren Snyder Grosz who has been providing wellness and nutrition education on the Liberation Wellness Blog since spring of 2010. She writes  articles about the effect fad diets and eating processed foods has on our health, as well as other important health topics.

I’m so enthused about the work Lauren does in spreading the real food and nutrition word.  I hope you’ll go visit Wellness Liberation and read more of her posts as well as other fantastic contributors who also provide information. These people are making  enormous contributions to our knowledge of real health, and are doing some of the most important work in the world.

I met Lauren at the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference in Philadelphia last month, and she was sweet and engaging.  As with many other great people I met there, I wish I’d had more time to visit and talk with her. But as conferences go, the schedule was tight and there were so many people to meet and see. I’m hoping to get to know some of those amazing people better whom I wasn’t able to spend time with by featuring their posts on Agriculture Society.

This wonderful essay describes missed opportunities by those who have every means possible to bring great health to themselves but instead listened to the wrong advice about how to achieve their goals.  Although I don’t follow celebrity life much, I’m always encouraged to hear accounts of famous people who make positive changes through real food and share their stories. It’s important when those in the public eye speak out against mainstream health channels and tell the world about their health successes since so many people listen to and are influenced by what they do.

And still, there are other stories of those who chose to starve themselves or follow unseemly diets to become healthy – and aren’t doing themselves any favors. Lauren’s essay today talks about several people in the spotlight who have chosen those paths, and I think the lessons we can learn from these choices are extremely important.

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I admire the Guests the way some people admire the Kennedys.  My daughter is named Charlotte Catherine because I wanted to be able to call her C.C. as a way of paying homage to C.Z. Guest; horsewoman, fashion icon, and gardener.  In the Spring of 2002, I had a chance to attend a lecture she was giving at The Chicago Botanic Garden.  She was 83 at the time and appeared to be in excellent health.  A year and a half later C.Z. Guest died of ovarian cancer.

In the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar, I was saddened to learn that C.Z.’s daughter Cornelia is a vegan.  A quick Google search revealed that she has made this decision for health reasons.  Congestive Heart Failure turned my father, who had been an exceptional high school and collegiate athlete into the equivalent of an invalid when I was 16 years old.  Two years later, I became a vegetarian as a way of steering clear of my dad’s fate.  Occasionally, I’d lapse, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant that I permanently ditched vegetarianism.  Cornelia is almost 47, so it’s not likely that pregnancy will rescue her from her vegan wasteland.  Discipline will also make it harder to turn away from something she perceives as providing a payoff.  As a young socialite in 80′s, the article emphasizes how her equestrian habit saved her from the other popular habits of the era.  Even if she was out late, there were horses to ride the next morning.

Once, I made the acquaintance of a pro football player, who had started drinking soy and was a vegetarian during the week.  When I began inquiring as to why he was doing this, what I learned was interesting, disturbing really.  He felt this way of eating required discipline, hard work, and persistence, all of the things that helped him to be a starter in the NFL.  He was a physical specimen to behold, but was unable to credit his grandmother’s  and mother’s love of traditional southern food for his stature and strength.  This inability to give credit where credit is due is also what led Cornelia Guest to ban all animal products from her life.  The saying in their house was, “a pound of butter a day keeps the doctor away” and still she banishes the food!  It isn’t enough that her mother enjoyed robust health until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Surely butter, cream, eggs, and meat must be to blame.

Certainly, this is what I thought because butter was king in our house and from my vantage point it had caused nothing but trouble.  My mom died at the ripe old age of 64.  Yes.  She smoked, but everybody knows food plays a part.  I’ve already mentioned that my dad lived like an invalid, who survived until he was 72 because he slept about fifteen hours a day, and swallowed prescription pills that could only be held by a giant shoe box.  Somehow, it never occurred to me that my family’s health woes could have anything to do with the bank of cabinets devoted to snack foods or that my mom liked to start her day with dessert and a glass of Folgers  Crystals.  She was very particular and always insisted on Heinemann’s Coffee Cakes.  A cursory glance at their ingredient list fails to turn up anything that belongs in a Bavarian coffee cake or any other food for that matter.  Now blaming sugar even seems far fetched because unless we were making sugar cookies from scratch, it seems highly unlikely that any of our favorite companies used anything other than High Fructose Corn Syrup and soybean oil.  My dietary choices were also hampered by my mom’s fabulous figure, never weighing more than 125 pounds, she was of the opinion that only peasants couldn’t wear their normal clothes home from the hospital after giving birth!  How could sugar, even if it was fake, be to blame?  She was thin, strong, and enjoyed incredibly robust health, until diagnosed with cancer.  Within a year, we had lost her.

That very same year, I serendipitously came across the life changing work of Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A Price Foundation.  While I hadn’t been a vegetarian for many years, it wasn’t until then that I understood the importance of having animal fat in my diet.  Fortunately, there was enough real food in our house; my mom frequently cooked from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that I instantly knew which foods were the culprits of disease in my family.  The drive to be healthy seems incredibly strong in children who’ve lost a parent at a young age.  Gwyneth Paltrow provides a window into the extremes someone, with means, will go to in order to avoid getting cancer.  She was very close to her father and to have lost him when she was only 30 obviously took a toll.  In her new cookbook she reminisces about cooking with him and notes that health food was not the priority, hence her obsession with Veganese, a concoction made entirely from fake vegetable oils.  In addition, the starlet avoids dairy and only eats animals with two legs.  I can’t help but wonder how on earth her mother  Blythe Danner allows her lovely daughter to carry on with this warped destructive food philosophy.  Not surprisingly , Gwyneth announced that she has osteopenia – a precursor to osteoporosis.  She is unable to connect the dots between her diet that is devoid of Vitamin A and D and having a disease commonly reserved for old women.  Her remedy for this which was urged by her doctors is to take prescription strength Vitamin D.  What is most disturbing is that she has enormous influence, just as Cornelia Guest has in her circle, and hordes of young girls will blindly follow their advice!

Lastly, it’s important to add that many people already understand the importance of eliminating junk food, such as sugar laden cereals and soda.  Dr. Price showed that this is only part of what is responsible for radiant health and wholeness.  Unless the all important fat soluble activators are given their due people will still experience compromised health.  Madonna’s daughter Lola is proof of this: the Material Girl’s family is on a strict organic, vegetarian, macrobiotic diet and yet the poor girl still was not spared orthodontics and additionally required a back brace for scoliosis.

Living long and living well depends on eating high-fat high-cholesterol foods. Yes.  We all have to die sometime, but that doesn’t mean it has to be via a massive heart attack, cancer,  or spending the winter of one’s life in an Alzheimer’s facility.  Traditional diets provide the antidote to these grim scenarios.  The second arrow in our quiver is that an infrastructure for excellent sanitization exists – hot water, stainless steel tanks, electrification – that should allow us to all live to a ripe old age (barring accidents).  Yet,  instead of flourishing, the diseases of civilization have never had a stronger hold on us.  It’s simply not enough to know something is bad.  While we do not need to turn our children into small nutritionists, they must be able to discern between what is true and false, and why certain principles must not be abandoned in the kitchen.
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Lauren Snyder Grosz is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Educator. She writes for LiberationWellnessBlog.com. As a student on a lifelong quest for exceptional health and happiness, her mission is to empower people to take complete responsibility for their own health by rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true and rediscovering what truly works based on accurate science.