December 10, 2018
Do you pay attention to the latest research on diet and foods? I’m referring to those new studies that contradict what was just reported two minutes ago, which usually means we’ve all been doing totally the worst thing we can do for our health.
Or, like me, do you scoff at most of the nonsense served up by the chronically compromised scientists who could be doing something really worthwhile like figuring out how to remove the calories from cheesecake while still making it edible? Or convincing the FDA to remove all carcinogenic dyes from our foods?
These “scientific” research findings are usually based on two flaws, and sometimes both at the same time:
1. Not accounting for other variables that could explain the results.
For example: We all think my sister’s dog, Carmella, is brilliant. Genius-level brilliant. After all, she can tell time! I’m sure she trots into her owners’ home to check the digital display on the microwave so that she can tell her owner to get up and feed her.
Never mind that Carmella has been fed nearly the same time every day for many years and, so, her stomach has been conditioned to alert her when it’s time for kibble.
2. Requiring us to reduce the quantity of the offending food to an amount that would fit on a gnat’s salad plate, OR, requiring us to increase the quantity of the beneficial food to an amount the size of Saturn.
Let’s look at a few snippets of the best nutrition and diet findings these scientists have to offer us consumers:
Sure, only if you count out four strands of plain, uncooked angel hair pasta and eat one strand for every mile you run.
In this study:
Participants ate about 3.3. servings of about a half cup of pasta on average each week.
Half a cup of pasta.
I have never, ever, ever eaten just a half a cup of pasta. Serve me a half a cup of pasta and I’ll never dine at your establishment again.
Oh, and it’s important to note that the original research had financial conflicts tied to the world’s largest pasta company, the Barilla Group. Just sayin’.
The gist of this study’s conclusion is: Couples are more likely to gain weight than those who are single because people in relationships don’t give a hoot what they look like.
It’s a fact. Peek into the window of that married couple next door. I dare you.
You'll see a husband sprawled on the sofa drinking a six-pack of beer without taking each can out of the plastic ring holder and spy the wife with a bowl of pasta (not a half a cup) snuggled up against her ample belly. In the meantime, your single neighbor is on her second 45-minute workout of the morning. It’s only 8 am, but she already ran three miles when she got up at 4 am. When she’s done relating to her Nordic track, she’ll be off to hike 8 miles while carrying a 45 pound pack.
Maybe single people are so depressed about their relationship status, they can’t see the kitchen through eyes swollen shut from sobbing and watching TV into the wee hours.
Or maybe the single people in this study lied about their weight? Heck, I do and I’m not even being studied.
Two studies were done to “prove” the beneficial effect of dark chocolate on stress levels.
A total of 10 people were studied. Ten.
They couldn’t find anyone else willing to scarf down hunks of dark chocolate? I’d have volunteered if I’d known about it!
And get this: One study with five people had no control group, meaning that they all ate the chocolate and no one went without. Not a great way to show a comparison, eh? The other study let four people eat chocolate while one was left to chew on his cuticles.
Studies like this one are as bad as the arguments I read on Facebook in which the poster presents proof solely based on his uncle Fred’s experiences.
The crazy thing is, the study only measured brain waves and gene activity, not stress levels.
Oh, and it should be mentioned that the person who led the study, Lee Berk of Loma Linda University, is co-owner of the company that provided the chocolate. Biased much?
Here’s another study we can all get behind, while we get a larger BEHIND…
There were as many holes in this study as there are in a slab of Swiss cheese. The authors of this study apparently got bored and gave up on developing a questionnaire that would have identified the multiple variables affecting the results. In other words, they couldn’t account for much of the reasons why people who ate the full fat dairy had similar death rates to the low-fat dairy consumers.
But, hey, wouldn’t it be fun to publish a study! Especially one that would allow me to eat as much Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as I want rather than that tasteless low-fat frozen yogurt—plain, with no sprinkles.
This study based its conclusions on data/percentages that turned out to be not statistically significant.
In short, to be statistically significant, the results have to be due to something other than pure chance.
I don’t know a whole lot about statistics. Most of what I know couldn’t fit into a half cup. But I am careful about drawing a link between a random event and a carved-in-stone fact.
As far as I’m concerned, if I eat dinner any earlier, I’ll need to have breakfast at midnight and lunch at 6:30 am. And then go to bed around noon. I’ll have to set the alarm for my snacks.
All of these studies and more were reviewed in the publication, the Nutrition Action Health Letter, put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It’s an excellent source of information for the lay audience who fall asleep reading studies from those snooze-worthy peer-reviewed journals.
I love the back page of the newsletter where they feature the Food Porn section. In the November edition, the authors highlighted Denny’s new Dulce de Leche Crunch Pancake Breakfast—enough syllables to add at least 450 calories to your daily intake.
This delectable delight of sugar smothered fat is two huge buttermilk pancakes topped with cinnamon flavored crumbs, topped with whipped cream and served with a pitcher of warm salted caramel.
Remember, Denny’s is calling this tsunami of cholesterol molecules a “breakfast.” Because wait, there’s more! In addition to the 1,200 calories you’ll get eating the pancake portion, the meal also includes two eggs, hash browns and two slices of bacon or sausage links.
You’ll stagger out of Denny’s with 1,740 calories under your belt along with a day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium.
1. Not all nutrition and diet research is based on sound science. A lot of it is no better than utter ignorance.
2. Find a reliable source for scientific information. I suggest the newsletter mentioned above.
3. Eating at Denny’s regularly could be hazardous to your health.
4. My sister's dog is brilliant. She's smarter than your average U.S. President.
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