Wrong Information, Right Information

Uploaded by drweil on 04.06.2012

There has been, I think, tremendous misinformation by the putout of nutritionists and medical
doctors over the past fifty years. I think one of the huge disasters was the obsession
with fat in our diet - the promotion of the idea that fat makes us fat and that the essence
of healthy food is low-fat food. During the era when this idea was especially dominant,
in the 1970s this is when the Ornish and Pritikin philosophies became very strong and when a
lot of spas started in this country, and when I visit spas many of the menus served there
are still almost all low-fat menus, that is still the focus of what people do. During
the era of low-fat obsession, all of these non-fat and low-fat products came out on the
market and during that period Americans got fatter and fatter. What is wrong with that
picture? Clearly something is very wrong there. Then we had this Atkins bubble which a reaction
to this was it wasn't fat, carbohydrates now became the thing that were demonized and we
had this no carbohydrate, low carbohydrate era. Both of these camps have some pieces
of the truth and I think the Atkins camp is much closer to the truth, but both of them
also got big pieces of this wrong. I don't know how many of you have heard of the book
that has been out here recently that is causing a lot of controversy, I recommend reading
it, it's not the easiest read but it is called "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and the author
is Gary Taubes. He is a science writer for the New York Times, a very meticulous researcher
of literature, and he has gone through the medical literature very carefully on nutrition
research and some of the conclusions he comes to are quite startling. First of all, there
is not a shred of evidence that fat makes you fat. Secondly, he feels that all of the
evidence points to a biochemical disturbance in metabolism in which insulin is the key
player. Insulin really determines how calories are used, how energy is distributed in the
body and that disturbance of insulin-regulated metabolism is genetically influenced. A lot
of us have these genes and inherited it probably from our hunter-gatherer days that make us
very efficient at storing up calories when they are available. It's that genetic constitution
in the present environmental climate in which food is available all the time and the kinds
of foods that we have made available are particularly full of quick-digesting carbohydrates that
cause spikes in blood sugar, this provokes the disturbance in people. The other idea
that he presents that is fascinating is that for years there has been almost a religious-like
belief in the idea that it is calories in equals calories out and that the solution
is to decrease intake and increase exercise. Therefore, those who are obese are eating
too much or not exercising enough and this is a problem of will or motivation, he talks
of how much over the past fifty years there has been a tendency to even recommend psychiatric
or psychological intervention for these problems. The evidence that he presents is very strongly
that overeating and under-activity are in fact symptoms of an underlying metabolic disorder.
These are ways that the body adjusts its energy state by reducing activity or by increasing
intake and this is not something that is under voluntary control. I think he's got a lot
of things right in this book, also some things not quite right, so I don't think anybody
has yet put together the whole picture but I would say that all the evidence points to
carbohydrates as being the really significant piece of this. It has been the way that we
have changed carbohydrate foods that I think is the most significant thing that we have
done wrong in the past fifty years. Particularly, we have flooded our diets with the kinds of
carbohydrate foods that digest quickly and convert to blood sugar rapidly and cause spikes
in blood sugar which releases insulin and over time, in many people, there is a sensitivity
to carbohydrates. We all know people who are rail thin who can eat anything they want in
any quantity and never gain weight and they tend to be active - they do not have this
genetic constitution. It is very annoying to see them and the only consolation is that
when the famine comes, they're gone!