A few days ago I was flooded with messages from family, friends, and followers, sharing a New York Times article that had shocked them all. This article detailed how the sugar industry paid scientists in the 60’s to target saturated fat as the primary factor in heart disease instead of sugar.
The Sugar Association, previous known as the “Sugar Research Foundation”, paid over $50,000 to multiple researchers in order to keep the focus on saturated fat as opposed to the role of sugar in the development of heart disease.
Although every person that shared this with me expressed some level of surprise, it didn’t even elicit a heavy sigh or jaw-drop for me. This article sums up the standard of nutrition and health research in the United States for close to a century.
First there was the Seven Countries Study in the late 50’s in which one researcher set out to prove his personal belief that animal protein and fat was the cause of heart disease…with funding of $200,000 from the U.S. Public Health Service!
This “scientist” went on to cherry-pick six countries that best supported his belief, while removing 14 others that had low rates of heart disease despite diets full of saturated fat and animal products.
Later there was the China Study, where a researcher looked at the rates of cancer for the whole of China, took the daily diet of one particular area, and applied it to the whole country, claiming that the diet was the sole cause of the low cancer rates. Next, the researcher exposed rats to cancer causing toxins, fed them highly processed, inflammatory protein that their natural diets wouldn’t include, and when the cancer cells grew, claimed that all animal protein would cause the same results in humans!
Did you know that there is such a thing as the “Gatorade Sports Science Institute”? And that nearly every recommendation regarding hydration, whether from a study or just propagation of long-standing rhetoric, comes from this “institute”?
So, we’ve got food producers paying for the studies that will affect national health guidelines, guaranteeing sales of their products.
We’ve got researchers trying to prove that their personal beliefs and diets are best for preventing disease while burying any data that disproves their hypothesis.
And we’ve got enormous leaps of faith, referred to as epidemiological studies, assuming that 1 single factor is the end-all be-all for a population of millions.
But now we are at the peak of the information age! People can now go online and look at the actual studies. We can find the fallacies and the strengths in different studies, and then that information can be spread across the globe in a matter of seconds thanks to social media.
Other countries have been testing for Celiac disease at birth for decades.
Italy is proposing a new law that could result in jail time for parents that force a vegan diet on their children (due to lack of naturally occurring essential nutrients such as EPA/DHA, B vitamins, and activated fat-soluble vitamins).
Government agencies are trying to limit prescription of opiates and benzodiazepines (even if the damage has already been done).
All this represents a shift in the paradigm of health. No longer is there one Standard American Diet.
Some people are replacing grains with veggies while others only eat “ancient” grains that have been sprouted. Some people limit protein and calories while others skip breakfast to reap the same fasting benefits. People are aware that buying pastured beef or pork from a local farmer, or buying chickens to have their own source of eggs, is a choice that not only affects their health, but the environment as a whole.
Keep one eye on the news, whether popular sources like the New York Times or digital forms found on blogs and doctor-run websites. But keep the other eye on the actual research. When an article has some super catchy title, see if there is a link to the study.
Read the methods – is it based on dozens of individuals in a perfectly controlled facility 24/7? Or does it make assumptions from a birds-eye view of millions?
Read the conclusions – does a diet of grass-fed pastured beef cause cancer? Or is the true danger a specific molecule found in highly-processed meats, that is normally consumed on a whole pizza or between two buns of sugar?
I guess what I’m saying is empower yourself!
Some of this may be complicated in the beginning, but as you read more and more, you’ll pick it up just like a second language…and remember I’m only a message away!