Category: Diet Wars
Does a word every just get stuck in your head? Today's word is definitely nincompoop.
Interesting word. I like â€˜nincompoopery' as well. Apparently the origin is quite old, but uncertain. It's not used much nowadays; the New York Times used it five times in the last year. In its April 3, 2001 edition, it referred to Americans referred to as "nutritional nincompoops."
Recent BTD sightings in the popular and scientific literature would make it appear that the American consumers are not the only nutritional nincompoops.
This morning I picked up a recent issue of Women's Health magazine, featuring such sound nutritional research as â€˜The Cheetos Diet,' and came across a comparison of the online diet support sites (you know, eDiets, Weight Watchers, etc.)
eDiets came out pretty well; the only down side was its inclusion of the Blood Type Diet, which in the words of Food Scientist Jennifer Anderson "is scientifically unsound."
Wall-papering your house from the mail slot in the front door is 'scientifically unsound'. Putting out a fire with gasoline is 'scientifically unsound.' Scotch-taping bottle rockets to your sneakers and expecting to fly is scientifically unsound. How, pray tell, is factoring blood type into health calculations 'scientifically unsound'?
'Low-Fat Diets Flub a Test' proclaims today's main editorial from the always peripatetic New York Times:
"The baffling results came from a $415 million study of almost 49,000 women age 50 to 79 who were tracked for eight years, with repeated exhortations to the low-fat dieters to stick to the regimen. In findings announced this week, the almost 20,000 women on low-fat diets had essentially the same incidence of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, heart disease and stroke as the 29,000 women who followed their normal eating patterns. The results clearly surprised the investigators and may sound the death knell for the belief that reducing the percentage of total fat in the diet is important for health."
Among other concerns, restricting fish, nuts, and seeds immediately cuts off any source of Essential Fatty Acids such as Omega-3. Low fat dieters are also more at risk of suicide.
Eat your rabbit food.
Not unexpected. There's huge amounts of money at stake: Grant money, book sales, you name it.
Although it took me the better part of my first two decades in practice to realize it, a truly resourceful approach to nutrition is not very complicated:
It is the foods that you identify as benefical for a specific person and which truly feed him, that make him more healthy. Telling a person what to avoid will sometime make him less sick, but only rarely more healthy.
I've never seen anyone improve on a diet of rice cakes and lemon water.
Future low fat gurus may want to ponder the wisdom of cajoling sick people into draconian dietary measures.
Now, before anyone thinks that this is the ultimate validation of all things Atkins, the study also found that an increased consumption of carbohydrates and grains is safe and healthy - contradicting the claims by proponents of low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins that high carbs increase the risk of diabetes. Those in the study "did not show any signs of diabetes, their triglycerides were normal and their blood glucose was normal," said Dr Elizabeth Nabel, director of the US's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which sponsored the $415 million study.
So, now that we know who lost, when do we find out who won?
Not any time soon. That won't happen until researchers start incorporating specific markers of genetic individuality into their study designs: Polymorphisms (like ABO blood type and secretor status); single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and metabolomics (the study of genetic differences by analysis of metabolic end products).
Until then, we will constantly be left with conflicting results and confounding, competitive theories.
Could it be that the idea was right, but the execution wrong? That the cause of some cancers does have to do with fat, but not in a way that is addressed by a low fat diet?
In other words, suppose toxins and free radicals in fat tissue do cause breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, but (unfortunately) a low fat diet in and of itself does nothing to help eliminate them?
And perhaps paradoxically, in some people, actually concentrates them instead?
Then you have a reasonable experimental model for the case of the life-long vegan who gets breast cancer.
One of my teachers used to tell us that there were two types of medical students: The first type, who go through four years of medical school; and the second type, who go through the first year of medical school four times.
Sadly, we seem destined to go through this first phase of nutrition research a few more times.
Anyway, some other news:
Put up some new sound files in the Media Center. The first is an extract of a lecture I gave at the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine. The second is part one of the 'Century of Blood Type Science' lecture given as the keynote address at IfHI 2003. I hope you enjoy them.
You can access these sound clips by clicking this link.
Let's see. It's still snowing and we're probably up to about twelve inches and counting. A freebie day off! Spent the vast majority of the morning and afternoon upgrading the website. Since much of the site used Java as part of the navigation and unfortunately a lot of people either have disabled Java or never activated it in the first place, a lot of folks had problems getting around the site. Most of it is simple busy-work, changing parts of code that control how the top and bottom of how the pages load (the headers and footers) but every once in a while I found some aspect of the new design that required a re-write of the code.
Kids are off from school today, which nowadays means a non-stop â€˜Sims 2' festival. I've not the patience necessary for the game, which is a simulation of the daily life of characters that you create and follow through life. Most kids I know are addicted to the game, but I expect that it would hold little thrall for any adult with kids. Really, when you have to follow real life characters through life, would you want to spend your free time following computer characters as well?
The website rewrite has at the least pulled me away from the SWAMI project, which has now grown to over 4,000 lines of code. I've begun to let a few colleagues play with the program and the response has been quite positive, with a few remarks about the fantastic detail that the program is able to produce in its eventual diet printouts. As to when it will make its public appearance, only time will tell. I keep thinking of new things to add.
My brother alerted me to a Wikipedia entry on the BTD that was not exactly flattering. Turns out it was just the old tiresome Klaper article that was cross-posted all over the internet by several of the vegan websites. I responded to this article years ago, but I no longer do this type of riposte, as it constitutes a type of cheerless infanticide that leaves me no more satisfied or happier than if I had just ignored it in the first place.
I think the martial arts studies have certainly helped me to accept that the field of nutrition is basically a dog-eat-dog world, and that in certain circles there will always be unacceptable conclusions, no matter what the quality of the work or originality of the concept.
Of course these folks have a major problem with my advising certain other folks to eat meat. I suspect that if I had concluded that, based on blood type, everybody should be a vegan, they would be in love with my research.
It's not surprising that polls consistently show that more and more people feel that the vast majority of material on the internet is not believable. Often it is not who is right or wrong; it is simply who got there first with their side of the argument. However, if this all leads to greater iconoclasm and less gullibility on the part of the internet public, then perhaps it will have been a good thing.
"Hi there. The study by Michael Dansinger of Tufts-New England Medical Centre in Boston may be of interest to you, if you haven't already heard about it: "One diet won't work for everyone, scientists warn slimmers" (Guardian, UK) They tested Atkins, Ornish, Zone and WeightWatchers. Why not Blood Group??? Best regards, Aidan"
The Dansinger study is interesting. For the study, he chose 160 overweight people and randomly assigned 40 to each of four different diets. They weighed an average 100kg and needed to lose between 13 and 35kg. All agreed to follow the diets to the best of their ability for two months, although none was enrolled in the full programmes that Weight Watchers and Dr Dean Ornish advocate. These include exercise, group meetings and food diaries for Weight Watchers and stress reduction for the Ornish diet. After two months, 22 per cent of the dieters had given up. After a year, 35 per cent had dropped out of Weight Watchers and the Zone diets and 50 per cent quit the Atkins and Ornish plans.
The study suggests there is no one-size-fits-all diet best for everyone. Wonder where I hear that one?
"The best way might be to be open minded about all of the options rather than focusing on finding the same 'best one' for everybody says Dansinger."
I think they were probably looking for diets that could go head-to-head with each other, and the BTD really can't be used for that. I remember a while back Wired magazine compared popular diets, and when they profiled the BTD, they used the type O diet and avoided mentioning the A, B and AB diets altogether.
If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you've already got half the vote.'
'Many years have you have been snubbed and even mocked, your theories debased and reviled. People seem to offhandedly wave away the world of discovery you have achieved like an odd odor in the air. It would seem that tremendous psychological forces are interacting in peoples minds when it comes to change, specifically in terms of attaining concrete understanding of health. You scare people, they are not ready for the truth.
-Stephan (blog comment)
Truth be told, the last few years have been a painful, if eye-opening education in the reality of rent-seeking, the corruption (intellectual, spiritual and economic) that results when learning is wedded to bureaucratic authority and income. Competing with rent-seekers can be a wearying and scarifying experience and a note like Stephan's does a lot to reassure me, a least a wee bit, that I am not some type of evil lunatic.
Rent-seeking can take many forms. There was the time a major manufacturer of ephedra-driven diet pills, fronted by a sonambulent reality TV star, advised my via FAX that they had been awarded the patent for developing supplements based on blood type and unless I 'played ball' with them, they would issue a cease and desist order. Investigating the patent quickly disclosed that the source material used in their application was my first book. They were, in essence, using me again me. We rolled the patent back, but only at great expense. But what about people who can't afford to fight back against the well-heeled?
Rent seeking is nothing new. The philosopher Schopenhauer wrote of it almost 200 years ago:
'Now what in the world has such a philosophy as mine to do with that alma mater, the good, substantial university philosophy, which, burdened with a hundred intentions and a thousand considerations, proceeds on its course cautiously tacking, since at all times it has before its eyes the fear of the Lord, the will of the publsher, the encouragement of students, the goodwill of colleagues, the course of current politics, the momentary tendency of the public, and Heaven knows what else? Or what has my silent and serious search for truth in common with the yelling school disputations of the chairs and benches, whose most secret motives are always personal aims?'
The new USDA food guideline are a great example of rent-seeking. Witness how the major processed food manufacturers have pre-registered for the whole-grain bandwangon. The stuff was already produced, the advertising copy already written. And right behind them? The biggest rent seekers of them all, The American Dietetic Association.
Whole grain? Great! GMO? What's that? Oh, yeah. Don't worry! Junk food CAN be part of a balanced diet. Blood Type Diet? Dangerous! Unscientific! Read this pamphet on a REAL healthy diet (paid for by McDonalds Corp). Use our spokespeople in your magazine or TV show (funded by Kraft Foods, or Monsanto, or ADM).
The proposed Codex Alimentarius is another exercise in professional and corporate rent-seeking. Interesting dialectic going on there. As long as vitamins are medically useless and not very profitable, there's no need to regulate. As soon as a biological role or profit margin is discovered, they become a terrible threat to the public and must immediately be regulated. The difference to the public? A minimum three-fold increase in price, availability only through physicians (most of whom are not going to prescribe them), and sub-therapeutic doses.
Those Quackbuster guys are another bunch of self-appointed public guardians who are in reality world class rent-seekers. Talk about double-speak: By definition alternative medicines don't work, since if they did, then they would then be conventional medicines.
So what chance does a guy like me, with a puny idea like the BTD, stand against a juggernaut like this?
A pretty good one, if you ask me.
They can only manipulate to achieve their ends.
We have the idea.
'Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self evident.'