"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Look Into Conventional Wisdom (and why you shouldn't listen to it)

The more I become interested in evolutionary nutrition and health, the more Conventional Wisdom angers me. I read a lot of health/nutrition websites, and I'm so sick and tired of people preaching about "healthy" foods that are actually aiding to the issues. If these foods are so "healthy," then why are people getting sicker and sicker? Why is nothing changing? Why are health care costs astronomical and why are more people obese than ever before?

I read an article recently about people wanting to retire Ronald McDonald (*rolls eyes*) which said, "And the government is getting strict on marketing unhealthy food to children." Really!? Really? The government's pushing "low fat" and "heart-healthy whole grains" and all of that other crap. In fact, in the government's newest campaign, the Food Pyramid is becoming..... wait for it..... a PIE chart! Well isn't that ironic? It'll be unveiled on Thursday, but apparently "it consists of four colored sections, for fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein... Beside the plate is a smaller circle for dairy, suggesting a glass of low-fat milk or perhaps a yogurt cup." I think it's great that fruits and veggies will make up half of the circle, but grains? Low-fat milk? This pie/pizza chart will not help Michelle Obama's "crusade against obesity," and will certainly not help people become healthier. "Low-fat" products are almost always pumped with added sugar, and it has been proven that fat does not make you fat. (Mark Sisson has a great article about it here and here's another great MDA article about it too. This article over at Paleo Diet Lifestyle also gives a great breakdown of Paleo-approved fats.) And grains? In the words of Sisson, "There is absolutely no reason to eat grains." Hell, it was because our hunter-gatherer ancestors settled down and figured out agriculture 10,000 years that people aren't as strong, tall, lean, or healthy as they once were. Eat green leafy vegetables for fiber instead-- we know that those don't make people unhealthy!

The most ridiculous thing I've read lately is Diet-Friendly Ballpark Snacks over at Fitbie.com (a site I've blogged about before due to its ridiculous nutrition advice). Instead of snacking on ice cream, they suggest getting a snow cone instead because "It's mostly ice and actually provides a little extra hydration." Seriously? Just buy a water if you're dehydrated and save the 62.92g of carbs! Instead of buying nachos, they recommend buying a pretzel instead, but picking off the salt crystals.... but then goes on to admit that a "plain salted pretzel isn't the healthiest pick, but it's the lesser of two food evils." Same thing goes for choosing cracker jacks over cotton candy because "they're still a vast improvement over the cotton candy." This is exactly why people are so confused-- they're saying it's unhealthy, but telling them that because it's a "lesser of two food evils," it's still okay? It's really no wonder why people don't know how to make the right choices: these so-called helpful diet articles are just a load of BS! How about telling them Eat before you go to the game so you don't have to A) Eat unhealthily and B) Waste your money on outrageously-priced ballpark food instead? Wouldn't that be a lot better than giving out conflicting information?

We are a nation of confused, conflicted, and sickly people who have too much information coming at us from all sides by CW-believing doctors, nutritionists, and governments. The conflicting information-- "Fat is bad! Now meat is bad! Oh, wait, now calories are bad!"-- jams people up so much that they just give up and continue to be sickly. So don't give up and do your research: grains, sugar, low-fat "products," and processed anything are evil. Do not be uninformed and listen blindly to them. Knowledge is power... and who doesn't want to have power over their own bodies? So, besides the Paleo books that I reference all the time, I have three books that I think everyone should read:
1) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. This should be required reading for all doctors, dentists, nutritionists, and, actually, everyone in general. Price, a dentist, found back in the 1930s that sugar and the Western diet were destroying healthy societies by examining their teeth. It's a fascinating and incredibly informational work on both the nutritional and anthropological levels.
2) The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller. Like Price, she examines the diets of hunter-gatherers and shows how the Western Diet (and the SAD) is the cause of our sickly modern societies.
3) Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes. This is an absolute must-read. He explains exactly what it says in the title: why we get fat, and what to do about it. He takes a very Paleo-like approach to nutrition and also reminds you that fat does not make you fat. (He also recently wrote an article for the New York Times, "Is Sugar Toxic?", which is also worth reading.)

I know this was a bit of a rant, but the evidence is there: the guidelines put forth by the government and advice by other Conventional Wisdom followers will continue to make people sick and obese. I know I can't change what's going on out there, but if I can just help one person turn to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, then this blog will have been a success. Actually, two or three people would be even better-- if you've ever seen the movie Pay It Forward, you can do a lot by reaching out to three people. Haley Joel Osment's character has an idea to change the world for a school project and says something along the lines of, "I'm going to help three people. And each of those three people will help three people, so now that's twelve people..." and explains how quickly that could multiply. So if this blog-- or any of the other Paleo/Primal blogs, books, or articles-- helps you achieve your health goals, then tell three people and hope that they'll keep passing it on until we no longer have obesity and health crises on our hands.

Cooking from Everyday Paleo:
Rockin' Moroccan Chicken!

Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Quote of the Day:
"An examination of 320 teeth of ten individuals revealed twenty teeth with caries, or 6.3 percent. It is significant that all of these carious teeth were in the mouth of one individual, the cook. The cook used European foods. The others all boarded themselves and lived on native diets." -Weston A. Price

(This post is featured in Primal Cave #4.)


  1. Hey, I wanted to make sure that I say hello to you since I want to connect with as many people who are passionate about health as possible, and you seem to be very passionate about it!

    I feel that I need to comment your writing style. It's so full of emotion that I kinda forgot I was reading your article, not listening to you personally. It comes across that powerful.

    Thanks a lot for these book recommendations. I'm familiar with Price's work through Sally Fallon, but reading the book by myself would definitely be helpful.
    - Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price
    - The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller
    (Gary Taubes' book was great.)

    So yeah, I hope to talk to you moreoften and discuss lots of things related to health, nutrition (and fitness too).

  2. Great sentiments. Although Paleo is great way to live, there is a bigger picture to consider. Grains have never been proven to contribute to a general deterioration of health. So to say that whole grains are "evil" is a bit misleading. Celiac disease causes many people discomfort due to an intolerance for gluten and therefore and intolerance for grains, but for all the awful things that are marketed as healthy and acceptable (dairy, for example) whole grains fall outside those perimeters as far as hard science is concerned. Red meat and animal products are greatly to blame for heart disease and obesity in america, this is well-demonstrated in the Cleveland Clinic's study of complete heart disease reversal via plant-based nutrition (grains included).

    And if humans "evolved" from these primal ancestors, as they evolved from primates, etc, why have we not evolved to be able to better digest these more readily available sources of nutrition? The answer is in Apologetics.

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