The Perfect Human Diet

I guess I should have known that a documentary called The Search for the Perfect Human Diet (subtitled “The Answer to the Obesity Epidemic”) would end up in a very predictable place. But just see how ground-breaking it sounds!:

The Perfect Human Diet is the unprecedented global exploration for a solution to our epidemic of overweight, obesity and diet-related diseases – the #1 killer in America. This film, by broadcast journalist C.J. Hunt, bypasses current dietary group-think [ding ding!] by exploring modern dietary science, previous historical findings, ancestral native diets and the emerging field of human dietary evolution – revealing for the first time, the authentic human diet. Film audiences finally can see what our species truly needs for optimal health and are given a practical template based on scientific facts.

Am I right? If only this synopsis wasn’t actually written by … C.J. Hunt.

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The iPhone, the Bitch and the Bathrobe

When I first met the Philosophe, one thing that really irritated me about him is one of the things I now most admire him for (and aspire to): his consistency. (If you can’t understand what’s irritating about consistency, just imagine how important it is to logical reasoning, and how frustrating it can be to argue with someone who is completely logical and rational – even when he’s clearly wrong!)

Of course I was probably annoyed by it because it showed up how I – like many of us, I’ll venture – was/am really bad at being consistent, preferring the “freedom” to be fickle to suit my agenda (“What’s that you say? How can I not eat animals for “moral” reasons but have no problem dropping a wad of cash on a pair of sexy leather boots? None of your goddamn business!”).

I was once again reminded of the huge currency of inconsistency recently while listening to an episode of the Stuff You Should Know podcast (while swimming with my waterproof iPod), this one on “How the Paleo Diet Works.” Having both read and written a fair bit on Paleo/LCHF/Banting/Noakes, I found the podcast to be rather superficial (including a by-now predictable misrepresentation of the work of Ancel Keys), but that’s maybe to be expected. It did manage to describe the key principles, namely that humans were evolved to eat and metabolize a particular kind of food, and that kind of food is not what most of us eat today, which is why the world is so fat and sick. Ergo, eating like your hunter-gatherer ancestors is the only to restore health and vitality. To break it down even further, basically don’t eat anything out of a box.

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It’s the nature, stupid!

Poor nature. It gets so abused. And I’m not even talking about the stuff we humans inflict on it with our cars, industries and nasty habits like smoking. I’m talking about all the bullshit claims people make in its name.

“Nature” is, of course, one of the big motivators for following the LCHF/Paleo diet, despite a fair bit of evidence suggesting that that is more of a paleo-fantasy (including recent findings of “stone age” tooth decay suggesting that hunter-gatherers weren’t very good at following the Paleo diet). But never mind that. Here’s a recent comment from Tim Noakes:

All creatures on this earth (including most humans) eat in response to biological signals that keep them healthy when eating the foods with which they co-evolved over millions of years. Provided humans are eating the foods with which they co-evolved, their brains should be able to tell them how much of the different foods they should eat. We do not need to tell a single animal in the Kruger National Part how much of which different foods each needs to eat. But put them in a zoo and feed them foods which differ by the tiniest amount from that with which they co-evolved, and they rapidly become ill as are most elephants in North American zoos suffering as they do now from obesity, heart disease and infertility. But this does not happen to anywhere near the same extent in the wild.

My opinion is that the same applies to humans – direct them to eat only healthy foods and let them decide how much of which different foods they need to eat.

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When an n=1 can actually teach us something

downloadThere’s been a good round of attention lately to various manifestations of bad science and hyperbolic (mis)representations of health claims (also don’t miss this excellent rant by a dietitian). Often the problem isn’t with the specific detail (however it may look to some people, the Philosophe actually isn’t out to “get” Professor Tim Noakes, nor does he have any reason to wish for the LCHF hypothesis to fail), but with the method of inquiry, and how people in positions of authority set poor examples of logical reasoning, and of how science works.

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Not the 9 o’clock news: Food companies want you to buy food

There’s a lot of noise, these days, about how food is killing us. Evil sugar is the overlord, but it has many minions in the form of pizza, and pasta, and bread (whither French culture!), and if we are to believe the noise, indulging in any of these is going to lead us to much nastier place than the world of Despicable Me.

The latest, a Guardian piece called “Fat Profits: how the food industry cashed in on obesity”, is a good reminder that articles that are very earnest, and very long (is it me or are things actually getting longer, as if we somehow have more time to read?) can also be nonsense.

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6 Reasons Why Blogs Are Bad For Your Brain

Thanks to this post over at a blog called (rather authoritatively) Authority Nutrition, which details “6 Reasons Why I do Not Trust The Mainstream Health Authorities“, for providing me with 6 Reasons Why Blogs (perhaps especially those who have the word “authority” in the title) are bad for your brain. Let’s go through them one by one:

1. Many of Them are Sponsored by The Big Junk Food Companies

Summary: The Big Junk Food Companies only care about money, so they cannot be trusted. Plus, they “inform” people that sugar is not toxic to children.

Reason Why This Is Bad For Your Brain: Not trusting anyone who has profit motives is not a reasonable, useful, or realistic heuristic (seriously, good luck with that!). Yes, there may be some who have motives that are as evil as that toxic sugar. But guess what, not everyone is corruptible, and it doesn’t serve anyone to walk around with conspiracy glasses on all the time. Plus, sugar isn’t (that) toxic.

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