The shortcomings of the current food pyramid and the benefits of a (once universal) nutrient-dense ancestral diet are slowly bleeding into the mainstream. We are seeing more and more articles and books on the dangers of sugar and trans fats and more recipe books on wholefoods or paleo diets gracing the shelves of bookstores. But for every celebratory step forward there seems to be a sobering backward step. Take for example, the “study” demonizing red met conducted by Harvard University that made the press recently. The blogosphere went crazy that week. I think Robb Wolf summed it up so eloquently when he said “This study SUCKS. It was a waste of time and money, the study design is atrocious and it elucidates NOTHING that has not been (poorly) investigated previously.” My initial reaction to the article in the SMH was “oh the outcomes of the study would be different if they used grass-fed meat as opposed to industrial feedlot meat.” But as Robb Wolf pointed out, to even make such a statement is giving the study far more credit than is due. If they did the same study and used grass-fed meat, the results would mean little as the data collection and basic study design was so fundamentally flawed.
What this shows us is that in the same way that we need to always consider the underlying source and processing of the foods we eat (not all meat is the same, not all fat is the same, etc etc), we need to consider the underlying robustness of any given study especially those that hit the mainstream media before we start parroting the results or altering our eating habits. Don’t believe everything you read or hear (or in my case, don’t even comment) until you dig a little deeper……
As a corollary to the red meat study conducted by Harvard University I refer to above (and to balance things up somewhat) I will leave you to ponder a scientifically robust study reported in January 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed that intake of saturated fat was NOT associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease. This was a 5–23 year follow-up of 347,747 subjects. It is strangely uncanny that THIS scientifically robust study didn’t hit the mainstream papers don’t you think!?! Is it maybe because the results are a little inconvenient for the Australian dietetics association, the Australian Heart Foundation and the vegetable oil industry??
My favourote quote of the month came from a spokeswomen of the Australian Heart Foundation who, in a bid to defend sugar, said “"If we were to look only at sugars in a food, it would mean foods like breakfast cereals, yoghurts and even fresh, canned and dried fruit would appear to be poor choices as they can be higher in sugars than other foods despite providing vital nutrients for good health."
When is the penny going to drop?!? That’s the point love: boxed breakfast cereals, commercial yogurts and fruits (esp dried fruits) are exceptionally high in sugars and are in fact NOT the best foods to eat for robust health and longevity. They are not in the same ballpark as pastured meats, bone broth, organ meats, pastured eggs, lacto-fermented foods and fresh vegetables. To read the full article click here.