Why We’re Sick in One Picture

Want to see everything that is wrong with conventional diet and exercise regimens and the causes of ever-increasing chronic disease in one photo? Here it is. (Hat tip: Reddit)

It goes like this:

Eat a processed, high carbohydrate, grain-based diet that makes you fat and hungry,[1] and results in chronic disease.[2] Try to remedy the situation by doing “cardio” exercise like jogging which over-stresses your heart[3] and saturates your body with the stress hormone cortisol. Finally, double down on this failed strategy by blaming meat for your declining health and adopt an extremely high carbohydrate, unnatural[4] Vegan diet that requires endless pill-popping and results in malnutrition and heart disease.[5,6]

Thumbs up!

Why do we do this to ourselves? There are much better paths to optimal health.

References

1. Ludwig DS, Majzoub JA, Al-Zahrani A, Dallal GE, Blanco I, Roberts SB. High glycemic index foods, overeating, and obesity. Pediatrics. 1999 Mar;103(3):E26. PubMed PMID: 10049982.

2. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):341-54. Review. PubMed PMID: 15699220.

3. Möhlenkamp S, Lehmann N, Breuckmann F, Bröcker-Preuss M, Nassenstein K, Halle M, Budde T, Mann K, Barkhausen J, Heusch G, Jöckel KH, Erbel R; Marathon Study Investigators; Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study Investigators. Running: the risk of coronary events : Prevalence and prognostic relevance of coronary atherosclerosis in marathon runners. Eur Heart J. 2008 Aug;29(15):1903-10. Epub 2008 Apr 21. PubMed PMID: 18426850.

4. Milton K. The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution. J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11 Suppl 2):3886S-3892S. Review. PubMed PMID: 14672286.

5. Shinwell ED, Gorodischer R. Totally vegetarian diets and infant nutrition. Pediatrics. 1982 Oct;70(4):582-6. PubMed PMID: 6812012.

6. Ingenbleek Y, McCully KS. Vegetarianism produces subclinical malnutrition, hyperhomocysteinemia and atherogenesis. Nutrition. 2011 Aug 26. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21872435.

Advertisements

Standard Calorie Restricted Diet May Lead to Cancer and Death

Researchers at Colorado State University recently completed a review of the limited amount of science around yo-yo dieting (scientists call it weight cycling) and cancer risk. What’s interesting is that, although consistent caloric restriction has been shown to reduce cancer risk, it appears that yo-yo dieting might increase risk of certain cancers.[1]

Weight Cycling and Cancer: Weighing the Evidence of Intermittent Caloric Restriction and Cancer Risk.

Overweight and obese individuals frequently restrict caloric intake to lose weight. The resultant weight loss, however, typically is followed by an equal or greater weight gain, a phenomenon called weight cycling. Most attention to weight cycling has focused on identifying its detrimental effects, but preclinical experiments indicating that intermittent caloric restriction or fasting can reduce cancer risk have raised interest in potential benefits of weight cycling. Although hypothesized adverse effects of weight cycling on energy metabolism remain largely unsubstantiated, there also is a lack of epidemiological evidence that intentional weight loss followed by regain of weight affects chronic-disease risk. In the limited studies of weight cycling and cancer, no independent effect on post-menopausal breast cancer but a modest enhancement of risk for renal cell carcinoma, endometrial cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have been reported. An effect of either intermittent caloric restriction or fasting in protecting against cancer is not supported by the majority of rodent carcinogenesis experiments. Collectively, the data argue against weight cycling and indicate that the objective of energy balance-based approaches to reduce cancer risk should be to strive to prevent adult weight gain and maintain body weight within the normal range defined by body mass index.

Previous research has shown a relationship between yo-yo dieting and morbidity and mortality, although the underlying causes are not known. It’s also shown that the prevalence of yo-yo dieting is high.[2]

Of course, adherents to the calorie counting paradigm will, as they always do, blame dieters for their diet’s failure. They will claim that this is caused by a “lack of willpower,” but now they rely on flawed, Oprah-inspired pop psychology to explain it. “You’re too stressed,” “You had a miserable childhood,” “Your life sucks, boo hoo,” etc. They won’t consider the well-established causes of their unsustainable, grain-based diet’s failure. Instead, they’ll look far and wide for vague, untestable answers in order to abstain from a much needed critical look at their own flawed nutritional theory.

In another recent study of dieters 63% of study participants engaged in yo-yo dieting.[3] If most dieters fall prey to yo-yo dieting, can’t we conclude that a standard calorie restricted diet is more likely to wreck your health, give you cancer, or kill you, then help you? When will the medical establishment stop blaming its patients and wake up to this?

There is a better way.

References

1. Thompson HJ, McTiernan A. Weight Cycling and Cancer: Weighing the Evidence of Intermittent Caloric Restriction and Cancer Risk. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Oct 7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21982873.

2. Brownell KD, Rodin J. Medical, metabolic, and psychological effects of weight cycling. Arch Intern Med. 1994 Jun 27;154(12):1325-30. Review. PubMed PMID: 8002684.

3. Osborn RL, Forys KL, Psota TL, Sbrocco T. Yo-yo dieting in African American women: weight cycling and health. Ethn Dis. 2011 Summer;21(3):274-80. PubMed PMID: 21942158.

The Fitness Laffer Curve

In economics, The Laffer Curve is a visual representation of economist Art Laffer’s theory about the relationship between government tax rates and tax revenues. He thought that there is point at which increasing tax rates begin to negatively affect revenues due to removing the capital from the markets that would have otherwise been generating more taxable profits and incomes, as well as reducing the financial incentives for production. Tax rates that are low and rates that are very high both result in a sub-maximal return for the government. There is a rate somewhere in between that balances these effects, and produces a maximum tax revenue. His idea was famously illustrated this way.

Tangent: I find it curious that market liberals tend to use this idea to bolster their arguments while Keynesians have demonized Laffer. The goal of the Laffer Curve is to maximize government revenue at whatever cost to private markets. Seems to me to be a more of a tool for those seeking to raise taxes than to lower them, but I digress.

As I’ve written before, the same relationship exists between exercise fitness and human health, so I have modified the graph for our purposes. Let’s call it the Fitness Laffer Curve.

We know about the benefits of exercise fitness for human health and we also know that extreme endurance exercise can result in permanent heart damage and other negative outcomes. Somewhere in between is an optimal level of activity that results in the highest increase in health.

The Captivity of History

Most of us in the Paleo community have come to view civilization as separating us from the environment we were made for, but, in his opus, Coming home to the Pliestocene, Paul Shepard takes it a step further. He indicts history itself as a denativizing force. I’ve barely started reading the book, but it’s been fascinating so far.

A repeated question of our time is, “How do we become native to this place?” History cannot answer this question, for history itself is the great denativizing process, the great deracinator. Historical time is invested in change, novelty, and escape from the renewing stability and continuity of the great natural cycles that ground us to place and the greater community of life on earth. As Norman O. Brown writes: “Man, the disconnected animal, unconsciously seeking the life proper to his species, is man in history: repression and the repetition-compulsion generate historical time. Repression transforms the timeless instinctual compulsion to repeat into the forward-moving dialectic of neurosis which is history.”