Unexpected delight of an advert-free day on Channel 4 as a mark of respect for the Queen’s funeral.
I’m sure the sellers will be measuring the effects on sales and behaviours but I wonder what bad choices were avoided by this break.
“Our society is set up to hypnotise us to feel less-than-good about ourselves in order to sell us things.”
From his book Radical Rest
When I was talking to my Eat Yourself Well group this month, they were shocked by some of the things that companies do to make money when they know they are selling a myth (lie).
The results from huge studies are ignored/hidden but the results from very small, flimsy studies are trumpeted in the media and that makes it very difficult for people to keep track of what’s what.
Don’t eat eggs ~ then eat eggs.
Don’t eat butter ~ then butter is fine
Don’t eat meat ~ we haven’t reached the point where meat is back on the “it’s good for you” messaging but I hope it won’t take long because people are going to end up badly over-fed and under-nourished on the fake rubbish that they’re being convinced to eat instead.
Nina Teicholz, a nutrition expert and journalist, gave the keynote talk this May at the Public Health Collaboration Conference. In this blog post I’ll share a few of the highlights but I highly recommend watching all of it. Here’s the link.
To declare my position. I spent 10 years eating lots of fruit and veg, less meat and little fat. The result? I was overweight (which I didn’t like), I was always hungry (with hunger distraction and hangry spells), I was tired all the time (in my 30s when I should have been full of life), I suffered dizzy spells, mood swings, bad skin and a weak immune system. They were 10 miserable years ending with an illness that lasted a year and a half.
Since I started to eat low-carb, high fat, real food in 2004 I’ve felt great. So it’s no surprise that I’m an enthusiastic member of the Public Health Collaboration and a big fan of their Real Food Lifestyle.
Nina started by talking about the last couple of years and the broader sense of confusion about information and misinformation we’ve experienced. She has found it disorientating. Facts, Fake News, Lies, Opinions, Beliefs and Denial of Scientific Findings. The last is the most troubling and has been going on for a long time in the nutrition field.
Nina gives key examples, showing some of the ways that nutrition evidence has been ignored, hidden, mis-presented and its authors attacked. The result is that the public still believe messages that are not underpinned by science at all and as a result might be working hard to do things that are detrimental to their own health.
A large number of government-funded trials have been conducted lasting for periods of 1-8 years and including over 67,000 people.
Saturated fat has no effect on cardiovascular mortality, total mortality, stokes etc.
This is the opposite of what we’ve been told for decades so the results were hidden eg the Minnesota Coronary Study was not published at all for 17 years and then put in an inappropriate journal so no one knew. And all because the authors were disappointed with the findings.
The National Institute of Health later analysed more raw data from this trial. They showed that the more the men lowered their cholesterol, the more likely they were to die from cardiovascular disease.
This is Denial of Scientific Findings.
The evidence does not support what people were told and now believe.
The USDA reviewed the US dietary guidelines. They said that dairy has an effect on CVD. When you look at the evidence they referenced, 100% of it does not support their statement. This is Denial of Scientific Findings and misinformation.
In 2015, the US dropped the previous limit on cholesterol intake because there is no relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. But, inexplicably they still recommend dietary patterns lower in cholesterol.
This is the second most studied hypothesis in the history of nutrition.
Most clinical trials you hear about are small. 200 is considered large. For low-fat diet benefits, >50,000 people have been studied.
The US National Institute for Health did the Women’s Health Initiative which involved 49k women for 7-8 years. This is a huge study.
They thought they were going to prove that the low-fat diet works but they could find no difference. It didn’t help obesity, heart disease, any sort of cancer or diabetes.
The low-fat promotions continue. This is Denial of Scientific Findings.
Nina similarly covered Low-Carb Diet (plenty of evidence to support its safety and efficacy) and the 2019 Red Meat study (which didn’t really demonstrate that red meat is dangerous but caused a heck of a rumpus).
Sound nutrition information has been systematically silenced for many years.
News headlines usually come from observational studies which are the lowest strength of evidence. They might have low numbers of subjects and select those to bias the likely findings. If they say the opposite of what large, clinical trials have said before, it’s usually best to ignore them.
Science cannot exist without challenge and debate. Unquestioning certainty is dangerous. Those who try to bring truth to light are persecuted. When they can’t argue with the science, they attack and smear the people who say things that don’t agree with their view of the world. Call them a …denier. This seems to be the world we live in now.
Top tip – either ignore the nutrition news headlines as most probably untrue, or dig into the actual studies that underpin them before you make changes that might damage your health.
Until the main dietary guidelines message is to reduce our consumption of ultra-processed food, we won’t even begin to solve the problem.
James Capon (Twitter @fatisourfriend)
What a strange world we live in. Is it just me or did everything make more sense a few years ago? Now many things seem to be upside down and the wrong way round, as if we’d fallen through the looking glass with Alice. Do you hear stories and do a double take? Have your alarm bells been ringing? Does your common sense tell you that it’s not quite right?
The media love to hype everything because they’re in the business of selling news; normal, happy times are no good to them. They’ve over-done the ‘crisis-of-the-day’ thing to the point of desensitising us. The day before yesterday is already old news, so the natural way we’ve lived for millennia won’t be promoted – there’s no money in it.
The headlines and narratives spewed out often misrepresent any underlying facts or even present the opposite. I think most people would be shocked by the lack of science behind the sound-bites and things ‘everyone knows….’
Technology has taken over and everything has an algorithm or worse, some (almost always wrong) predictive modelling. Fear is being used by governments to alter behaviour – we all know about the psychological nudge unit now. What percentage of the news we get is fake news? Who knows? Fact checkers do not check facts but are paid by those who benefit from promulgating their own position. People who stand up for the truth are erased from social media and whistle blowers are silenced. Scientists are not allowed to debate. Freedom of speech and of thought are things of the past.
It’s sad that we have to doubt all we hear from the media and government. But once you know some things are lies it makes you doubt everything else. It’s sad when conspiracy theories seem more sensible than the official narrative and sadder still when they come true.
So what can we be reasonably confident that we have been lied to about?
Saturated fat causes heart disease. No. A single, very poor (but highly promoted) American study decades ago ended up with the world believing that saturated fat causes heart disease and should be avoided. Actually, even the original study data really show that sugar is a problem, rather than fat, as an English Professor contested at the time and others have demonstrated since. Many, better studies over the years have shown that saturated fat is not a problem.
In fact dairy fats which are high in butyric acid (C4:0) and pentadecanoic acid (C15:0) have been shown to be protective against heart disease. What does eating cheese do to you? Lowers incidence of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Plus lower body weight, waist circumference and blood sugar (which of course are associated with these health problems). Plus higher HDL. And it’s delicious!!! Read a paper on cheese here.
Coconut oil is another healthy saturated fat and there’s nothing wrong with animal fats like lard and dripping either. (Actually, lard is mainly mono-unsaturated, like olive oil.)
The consequence of this misinformation has been the huge increase in consumption of vegetable oils like sunflower oil and this has driven today’s global obesity and diabetes crises plus many other diseases including cancer. We are harmed by too much omega 6.
Our Dietary Guidelines are still based on the old, flawed message because the panel that reviews them is made up of people linked to the food industry. It’s a bit like Europe’s nutriscore system that rates Nesquik (made mostly of sugar) as healthier than ham. Complete tripe!
Going out in the sun without protection is dangerous. Not usually. A little sun exposure is good for us. During the recent heat-wave, temperatures were so high that staying out of the sun was very sensible. But over the last decade or so, we’ve been scared off getting any sunshine at all on our skin. This has been hugely detrimental.
Sunshine enables us to make vitamin D in our skin (providing you’ve got enough cholesterol in your body to make it from of course). One of the biggest risk factors for a bad covid outcome (other than age) is low vitamin D. Most people in Britain are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is protective against cancer and rates of all cancers have gone up since we shunned the sun – ironically including skin cancer. You need to be mindful of your own skin of course and it’s important not to overdo it and burn. Fair skin can make plenty in about 20 minutes daily (arms and legs exposed). Darker skins need more. Those who can’t or don’t go in the sun need vitamin D supplements. Suncreams mostly contain toxins (even those marketed for children) so, if you need to use one, read up about them and choose one that won’t poison you.
We also make nitric oxide in sunshine which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Sunlight stimulates our brain helping set our internal clocks to sleep well when it’s dark at night by making melatonin – and that is also a powerful antioxidant.
And of course, sunshine makes us happy!
There is one healthy diet and everyone should eat the same way. No. We are not all the same. We have biochemical individuality. Ever go on a diet with a friend? Worked for one but not the other? It’s genetic and as a generalisation, the further north you go, the more meat and fat you need. Our populations have all been mixed up so you can experiment with different mixtures yourself or I can do a Metabolic Type Test for you. Only about 20% of the people in Britain suit the Eat Well Guide low-fat, moderate protein, heavy carb mixture.
Calories, Fat and Weight
A calorie is a calorie. Not in terms of biological effect. The type of food you eat determines whether you gain or lose weight, not the number of calories.
Fat makes you fat. Generally no. Most types of fat do not cause weight gain. High omega 6 vegetable oils and sugar make you fat by triggering your storage mechanisms.
Eat less and move more for weight loss. No. By all means move more because it’s fantastic for your health but you cannot outrun a bad diet. Read this excellent piece in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
If you want to lose weight you don’t need to eat less, you need to eat better. That’s why I help people Learn to Eat Well!
Meat is dangerous / gives you cancer. No. It’s dense in bio-available nutrients and is good for us. Processed food is dangerous and probably does cause cancer. Humans have eaten meat through the whole of history. Our non-communicable health problems are very new. But fake meat suddenly became the great way to make lots of money. It promises (erroneously) to save your health, save the animals and save the planet. It’s ultra-processed and made of ingredients that will damage your health like soya, omega 6 fats and chemicals, so steer well clear however much you’re bombarded with messages urging you to give up healthy, natural food and switch to factory-made artificial stuff.
See this 1min video on a Tweet from Frederik Leroy.
There is also a 3h interview with Frederik. I haven’t listened to all of that yet but it looks at the links between the campaigns to demonize meat-eating, the corporatization of the food system, the proliferation of chronic disease, biased nutritional science, global deficiencies and malnutrition, and animal-rights groups.
You mustn’t have any salt. Well, we need some of that too. Processed food has too much. It would taste like the rubbish it is unless it was masked with lots of salt and sugar and chemicals. A little salt on home cooked food is a good thing – use natural sea salt or rock salt for diverse minerals to help keep your electrolytes balanced, rather than just sodium chloride from table salt. In a heatwave, you can make a solay (concentrated salt solution), keep it in a jar and add a teaspoon to your glass of water, plus a few crushed berries. Better than an isotonic sports drink full of sugar and chemicals.
There’s more in this month’s Eat Well News, but for a blog post I’ve been on my soap box long enough (and don’t even get me started on anti-bacterial hand wash!) My hubby says I’m cynical. He’s right. And I think it’s a reasonable, self-protective stance all things considered.
So when your common sense alerts you to fake news – take all of it with a big pinch of salt!
Top tip – Whatever tripe they try to feed you, trust your common sense!
People have farmed in these hills for 1,000s of years, they are farmed well and it will carry on because it is giving the consumer what they want and is also environmentally good.
The Yorkshire Shepherdess
As usual the weather forecast is filled with tales of heat down south. Here, it was 12 degrees, poured with rain and blew a gale as I wrote this but only a little while ago my plants were all wilting in a mini heat-wave. That’s British weather for you and one of the reasons why the standard ‘drink 2 litres of water a day’ message (invented by the sports’ drinks industry and not based on any science) is rubbish. The amount you need to drink depends on many factors including your physical activity and – what you eat.
Drinking more in hot weather is helpful of course
– that is, water and herbal teas rather than coffee, tea, alcohol or fizzy drinks.
But you can also hydrate your body with wet food.
Dry food (like sandwiches and crisps) plus a drink don’t keep the water in your system as well as wet food.
Many raw vegetables have very high water content, up in the 90%s.
They also contain cellulose, a fibre that we can’t digest. This helps to hold the water for longer, like a sponge. Sticks of raw veg plus some meat, fish or cheese make a great packed lunch.
- Cucumber 95-97%
- Lettuce 96%
- Celery 95%
- Courgette 95%
- Cabbage 93%
- Cauliflower 92%
- Alfalfa sprouts 90%
- Carrots 88%
Most fruit is very sweet so you don’t want to gorge on that. The best is probably water melon at 95% water and extremely refreshing. For comparison, apples are about 85% and oranges about 70% water, both with much more sugar.
Soup is brilliant with blended soups having a greater effect than soups with pieces in a watery broth. When the weather is hot you can eat soup cold.
Here’s a link to 16 chilled soup recipes. I’ve made lettuce soup before and it’s delicious, but not had it cold.
And of course there’s vichyssoise
Here’s the BBC recipe from Vanessa Redgreave
Top tip – Eat some wet food!
Nutritious, affordable foods like meat, dairy, and eggs are uniquely healthy and cannot be replaced by ultra-processed and expensive fake ‘substitutes’.
Executive Director, Global Food Justice Alliance
It’s a growing trend for people to be over-fed and undernourished. How can this be?
Particularly with the modern trend of eating less fresh, home-cooked food, less fat and less or no meat and less fresh veg, deficiencies have increased in omega-3 fats, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin E, iodine and heart protective butter fats.
Other common vitamin and mineral deficiencies are vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2.
Over 50% of the foods eaten in Britain are ultra-processed and lack goodness and the right fats needed to aid absorption.
People suffering from deficiencies in nutrients often don’t realise that these are the root of their problems. Signs can be subtle and brushed off or put down to other causes. They include tiredness, shortness of temper, aches and pains and low immune system leading to illness.
When you know provide your body with what it needs, you enjoy more energy and vibrant health.
The Food Industry Wins Again
Every few years, groups of doctors and nutritionists campaign for changes to benefit people’s health. Governments get enthused and prepare new rules. And then the food industry comes in and it all gets dropped as we’ve just seen this month. They are simply much more powerful.
The tragedy is that the consequences of eating bad food has broken the NHS. The high levels of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, cancer and Alzheimer’s are directly linked to diet. The opportunity to curb advertising and promotion of health damaging rubbish has been missed yet again and people will continue to die too young having suffered years of horrible diseases.
Grass Roots Approach
Since it is not currently possible to get policy level changes, we’re on the front line to change things for better health. We can eat well ourselves and spread the word among our family and friends.
Top tip: Encourage those you know and love to eat real food.
PS One of the things included in my Eat for a Better Life course is where to get key macro and micro nutrients.
I hate sending the children to the Great House, though their grandmamma is always wanting to see them, for she humours and indulges them to such a degree, and gives them so much trash and sweet things, that they are sure to come back sick and cross for the rest of the day.
For decades, they’ve defended sugar as a harmless substance that provides crucial energy. They claim all calories are the same, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.
But as harmful as excess sugar is, I am firmly convinced that processed seed oils are exponentially worse — in my estimation a 10 times greater driver of chronic disease than sugar is.
We all have meals we like, that we know how to make and that we eat again and again. It lets you work on autopilot and cook without having to think about how a new recipe will work or having to plan buying different ingredients.
Most people own several recipe books (not to mention the infinite selection online) but usually only make the same half a dozen different dishes.
When you’re well and life is running smoothly, it’s easy enough to plan a week, buy ingredients and experiment a little. That’s the time to learn some new recipes and embed them until it feels effortless to make them. But when there’s something upsetting your routine or you’re unwell as I have been this month (hence the brevity of this thought), it feels more of an effort to cook meals from scratch every day. That’s when it helps to have a few more options under your belt so you can still eat real food. Having some portions in the freezer from previous batch cooking sessions is really helpful too!
And of course simple basic cooking not needing a recipe at all can be quick and easy – grill a chop while boiling some potatoes and knocking up a salad. Together with your learned recipes you can end up with many, many choices you’re comfortable with instead of half a dozen.
What recipes to learn?
Variety is good for your body and eating the same things all the time can lead to problems. Include meals with red meat, white meat, different types of fish, different types of vegetables and salads, different types of starchy carbs, different herbs and spices.
Have a count and share with us how many different meals you cook with ease.
Top tip: Keep adding to your repertoire of learned recipes.