Food and Drink

Dietary fat is no longer the bad guy, or Why does anyone listen to the experts?

This HND piece looks behind the current walking back of the "fat is evil" dietary theory. Readers of this blog know that the dietary fat/cholesterol/coronary heart disease meme has been disproved hundreds of times, but I guess bad ideas die very slowly.

The change in the wind is likely a direct result of the feckless bureaucrats behind this garbage finally sensing that the party's over. Maybe we can find some genius economist to help us determine how many lives have been ruined or even lost because of this deadly wrong advice.

Read the complete article.

A look at hydration

This HND piece begins by tracing our modern obsession with expert opinion (Spoiler alert: Benjy Spock), and then segues into some basic physiology on hydration.

How much water do you need per day? The experts say "It depends," but we go out on a limb and actually provide specific advice. Hoo-baby!

There's also the matter of overhydration, which turns out to be a problem only for those with some legitimate disease—and that includes OCD athletes.

Read the complete article.

Save us from the experts...please!

This HND piece exposes the idiocy of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's leaked pronouncement on cholesterol in the diet. Namely, that is has very little effect on serum cholesterol. It's bad enough that this has been known for decades, but it is even worse that anyone listens to these ghouls...and believe me, many people do.

My take is that this is simply a clever tactic whereby they can tell people to not worry about their diet, since no matter what, cholesterol just needs to be controlled with statins. And, don't even get me started on the fact that the entire cholesterol/lipid theory of coronary heart disease has been debunked dozens of times over.

More than that, I'm convinced that the vast majority of statin users have serious side effects, but are either told to ignore them because of the "greater good" of CHD prevention, or simply that the muscle pain or memory loss they are experiencing is just a sign of old age.

As to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, their risible, decades late embrace of the obvious in no way makes up for the bad medicine that will inevitably appear in the 2015 Guidelines: Advocacy of the high carb/low fat/low salt diet, despite massive amounts of data demonstrating its ill effects.

Read the complete article.

No silver bullet…for flawed diet studies

This HND piece covers yet another crummy diet study, and it is one more junk science affair headlined by big name know-nothings.

This one is a bit unique in that it combines the overhyped DASH diet, with "proof" that low carb is worthless. But, that would be low carb defined as 40% carbs in your diet. Talk about stacking the deck.

As to DASH, it is a warmed-over Mediterranean diet, with somewhat more carbs and a drastically lowered sodium content. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute geeks would freak at the real Mediterranean diet and its typical sodium level of 4200 milligrams per day.

Sadly, the people behind this study are way too high up in the, uh, food chain of influential researchers.

Read the complete article.

Stop the assault on salt

This HND piece marks the second time in six months that I have gone after the low-salters. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that low salt diets not only do not promote health, but are actually bad for people, these blockheads continue on—or at least try to.

The latest assault comes in the form of one of three articles recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The first two continue piling on the evidence that moderate salt consumption is good for you, but the low-salters have fixated on the third one (Mozaffarian et al.).

Cutting to the chase, lead author Dariush Mozaffarian and his nine collaborators spent plenty of Bill and Melinda Gates' money to run an epidemiological study on various health effects of dietary sodium. Hold onto your hats for the conclusion:

In this modeling study, 1.65 million deaths from cardiovascular causes that occurred in 2010 were attributed to sodium consumption above a reference level of 2.0 g per day.

Bear in mind that less than one percent of people on earth consume such low levels of sodium per day. Thus, these brilliant researchers discovered that in a cohort that comprises 99% of the human race, there will be some deaths from cardiovascular causes. I ask you to take a short break to appreciate how incandescently stupid this is. Have you ever heard of an epi study in which the cohort is 99% of the human race? What possible conclusions can be drawn?

At the very least, epi studies must attempt to remove confounding factors, but those will clearly be in abundance if everyone is in the study, right? For an illustration, consider the most famous epi work of all time—Richard Doll's demonstration that smoking causes lung cancer. Doll identified a particular group, and then compared it with non-smokers, looking at the endpoint of lung cancer.

In Mozaffarian et al, by making his cohort 99% of humans, he does not have a "non" group, that can be characterized in any rational manner.  One can hardly imagine a more absurd epi study than this one.

But, it gets worse. Not only were these worthless results published in a highly prestigious journal, but they were touted by the president of the American Heart Association, and king of the low-salters, Elliott Antman, MD. And Dariush Mozaffarian was named dean of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, coming from Harvard University, where he served as associate professor and co-director of the Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and an associate professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The health of Americans has been plagued with such meme-driven nonsense, and rejection of good science for decades. Likewise, the very promoters of this drivel are rewarded. And you wonder why there are major problems with our health care system?

Read the complete article.

Sat fat has nothing to do with heart disease

Here's the conclusion from an aritcle entitled "Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis."  Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(6):398-406-406...

Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.

Note that this meta-analysis included 530,525 people.

Quoting our friend Malcolm Kendrick, MD...

Or to put it another way, there is no evidence that saturated fat consumption has anything, whatsoever, to do with causing heart disease, or strokes. Once again I get to say ‘I told you so.’ Ah, the four most satisfying words in the English language. That is, when arranged in that particular order.

So, eat butter, drink milk, and throw away the horrible sugar-loaded low fat yoghurt. Go to France and enjoy the highest saturated fat diet in Europe and you, too, can enjoy the French rate of heart disease. Yes, of course, the lowest in Europe.

But now what happens? You see, the entire edifice of the cholesterol hypothesis is held together by two links in a chain. Link one is that saturated fat consumption raises cholesterol levels. Link two is that raised cholesterol levels then cause heart disease.

Various ‘experts’ have simplified this to the very simple equation:

A (saturated fat in the diet) > B (high cholesterol levels) > C (heart disease)

This is the cholesterol hypothesis, or the lipid hypothesis, and it has driven medical thinking for the last sixty years.

I have had it painstakingly explained to me, by very clever people, exactly how saturated fat raises cholesterol levels. Indeed, you will find ‘evidence’ for this almost universally accepted fact in literally thousands of clinical studies. Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter

There are strong, consistent, and graded relationships between saturated fat intake, blood cholesterol levels, and the mass occurrence of cardiovascular disease. The relationships are accepted as causal.’

Okay, let us accept that eating saturated fat does raise cholesterol levels. However, if consumption of saturated fat does not increase the rate of heart disease then….. Then raised cholesterol levels can have nothing whatsoever to do with causing heart disease. Just keep chasing the implications of that statement around in your head for a while.

So what happens now? We now have a cholesterol/lipid hypothesis that just had its head blown off. Yet, it still continues to wander about, unaware that it is actually dead.

As everyone knows you can chop the head off a chicken and it can wander about for years. I was also informed, when I was an open-mouthed child, that you could shoot a dinosaur through the head and it would continue to blunder about for some time, the rest of its body blissfully unaware that it was actually dead.

Well, the cholesterol hypothesis has just been shot dead, but I suspect it will continue to rampage about, stomping on puny humans for many years, before it finally keels over and admits that it is dead.

Ding dong, the witch is dead!


Sverige speaks: We've found the best diet

The Swedes have done it again! As detailed in this HND piece, after two years, and a review of 16,000 studies, the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment concluded that the best diet is Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF).

As I point out, this is only news to those Kool-Aid drinkers who have clung to the High Carb Low Fat (HCLF) dogma, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, HCLF is being blamed for such ills as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease itself. We also take a trip down memory lane with Erik cigars.

Read the complete article.

You don't need the food police

Inspired by Mayor Bloomberg's recent failed venture attempting to control the size of soft drink portions, this HND story takes dead aim at that portion of the Nanny Staters, known as the Food Police. Although there are obnoxious individual spokesmen such as Bloomberg and food writer Mark Bittman, the reigning leaders of the food police are the inaptly named Center for Science in the Public interest (CSPI).

While CSPI is (finally) against trans fats, few people realize that they were formerly the biggest proponents of trans fats. What's more, they've been lying about it ever since.

We also discuss the concept of anarcho-tyranny, and how it applies to the food police. Read the complete article.

Spotlight on food snobs

This HND piece examines the rampant snobbery connected with victuals. It starts off by quoting a rant from an anonymous Brit...

Every day, people compromise on their diet due to convenience and expense. This does not make them ignorant or in any way beneath you. There will always be those that try and stay ahead of the trends by discovering more prestigious/expensive ingredients, but this definitely does not mean that the quality of your food is better.

The snobbery covers many aspects of food, including "organics" (despite mountains of evidence showing that they are no more healthy than conventional fare); and a prejudice against frozen food, as if there had been no progress in that industry since the 1950s. Far better to keep clinging to stereotypes, I guess.

Read the complete article.