Stop Waiting To Be Saved

Saturday, January 12, 2013

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I'm Scared Too
photo credit: qousqous via photopin cc

No one is coming to save you.

No man or woman in a suit will be knocking on your front door with a map to revolutionized nutrition (or buried treasure).

The above speaks to both a cause and effect of magic pill marketing, one that is at play everyday.

We’re all waiting to be saved, we’re all wishing for a miracle, and we all want to win the lottery.

News flash: If you continue to wait, it’s going to be a while (read: forever).

Would you stake your health on winning the lottery?

Scary Stories for Adults

As a kid I read a series of books called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. They reliably scared the hell out of me. Thankfully with the help of age and maturity, the fear subsided, and I was no longer concerned about white wolves or hooked hand killers.

Unfortunately those irrational fears don’t disappear altogether. It’s more of a transition from irrational to rational. Instead certain aspects of real life begin to scare you.

My perspective on nutrition has been shaped by a series of what I call adult horror stories.

You see, around the same time that I was reading Scary Stories, I was also being taught about a food pyramid. The nation was consuming mass Crisco. And I was drinking skim milk on a daily basis because fat was the devil.

The Rise of Vegetable Oil

1Reference: The Atlantic

If something is “cloudy red and bitter to the taste…and is toxic to most animals, causing dangerous spikes in the body’s potassium levels, organ damage, and paralysis”, what would you do with it?

Family Feud has one answer on the board for all 100 points – throw it away. Unless you can think of something else?

Proctor and Gamble could. They thought outside of the box in the early 1900s and hydrogenated2 that substance (cottonseed oil) to produce a doppelganger that looked a whole lot like animal fat.

2Hydrogenation: a new process at the time that turned liquid to solid.

Why did they do this? To solve a problem. They needed a cheaper ingredient for their burgeoning soap and candle business.

How did they make even more money? By taking their solution and marketing it as a cooking fat as well. By then hiring the J. Walter Thompson Agency to market the fat, which was given the name Crisco.

The Agency proceeded to make unregulated, unfounded3 claims that Crisco was healthier than animal fat, which was popularly used at the time in cooking. Sales and usage exploded.

3Let’s clarify the word “unfounded”. If I claim that shoe polish is the healthiest cooking substance on the planet, I’m precisely as founded.

How does the story end? Today we know that Crisco actually contains 50% trans fat and that it skyrockets your risk for heart disease. Yet we consumed it throughout the 1900s with reckless abandon.

Because we were told to.

The Bastardization of Fat

4Reference: Robb Wolf. Sums things up nicely.
5Reference: Raw Food SOS. This is somewhat of a rambling one, but it’s fascinating never-the-less. Make sure you read it all the way through because at times the takeaway is unclear. Ultimately the objectivity is appreciated (and appropriate).

If I fill a basket with apples and oranges, cover it, and sell it to you as a basket of oranges, what’s your reaction? Did I deceive you?

Let’s try again. Now what if all the fruit is rotten? I’m guessing at this point you’re royally ticked off at me.

Ancel Keys sold you a basket of rotten fruit in the 1950s, and you’re still eating it today.

In his infamous Seven Countries Study, Keys forever changed the nation’s perspective on fat consumption by linking it to heart disease. To accomplish this he used data from seven countries, which showed the link.

Or did it? Does your perspective change on Keys’ work when you consider the following:

  • (Oh by the way) there were actually 22 countries in the original study, but 15 of them were thrown out because they didn’t support Keys’ objective.
  • (Oh by the way) it was an observational study6 full of issues to begin with.
  • 6More thoughts on observational studies.
  • (Oh by the way) although there remained statistically significant data, albeit much less, that the link may still exist, when you switch to “all cause mortality”7 the data completely reverses. Fat negatively correlates (could it be good for you?) and carbohydrates take the poll position of strongest linkage to death.  Surprise!
  • 7Dying, period. Isn’t this more important, being that there are many significant diseases that don’t involve the heart?

And that’s why you think fat is bad for you.

The Skimming of Milk

8Reference: Butter Believer

Let’s play guess the beverage!

It’s originally bluish in color, tastes like chalk, and is quite watery.

Need more? It’s a byproduct of cream production, much of it originates in factory farms, and much of it comes from animals injected with antibiotics and growth hormones.

Still nothing? It’s been fed to pigs to fatten them up for slaughter, although it’s marketed to you as a weight-loss ally.

That’s right, it’s skim milk!

How do you feel9?

9Personally, I feel like Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: “Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is Einhorn”

Now go fill up your cereal bowl and start the day right!

Bonus: Propping up GMOs

10Reference: Huffington Post

Alert: possible future scary story in progress!

Prop 37, a California ballot measure which would have required the labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Foods) was recently shot down. Passage was originally favored two-to-one until agro-industry giants infused a boatload of cash and a slick marketing campaign.

Just like that – 53% to 47% – Prop 37 died.

It’s not even that GMOs are clearly bad for you11. That’s still worth debating.

11Here’s some solid, unbiased perspective from Chris Kresser

Instead the issue is that whether they are or aren’t, you can’t and won’t know if you are consuming them.

Sleep Well Tonight

That’ll do it. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

The takeaway from all of these adult horror stories?

ACTION: STOP WAITING TO BE SAVED.

The sooner you come to terms with this, the sooner you change your life.

You are going to have to save yourself.

This requires initiative.

This requires you to put on your big boy or big girl pants.

This requires you to stand tall, on your own two feet, and think for yourself.

What do you say?

What’s All This, Roger?

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