Wednesday, 14 January 2015

USA diet extremes

My story begins during a first visit to the USA.  Walking through a restaurant, I saw a woman pour bright orange gloop on her salad.  My English friend told me it was French dressing.  Now in Europe, french dressing is a light golden liquid made of oil and vinegar, sometimes with mustard and garlic added.

Kent Altena's video demonstrated what I'm talking about:

In recent years I've been surprised to see how much sweetener is included in low carb recipes from the USA.  This includes mayonnaise and whipped cream, which are generally unsweetened when homemade in the UK.  I made a cake from a recipe by Kent Altena and halved the quantity of Splenda sweetener.  It was still very sweet.

When I've commented on this on blog posts by prominent low carbers, they respond with incomprehension or get defensive.

This indicated that the SAD (Standard American Diet) was already pretty extreme with high levels of sugar.

I read Jimmy Moore's account of consuming a crate of sodas (carbonated soft drinks) in the days when he was morbidly obese.  In his efforts to lose and maintain lower weight, he seemed to resort to extremes.  In one period he ate steak 3-4 times a day (sometimes more) until he finally absorbed what guest interviewees such as Dr Steven Gundry had told him about reducing protein intake.  Jimmy is now permanently on a ketogenic diet, where he sometimes consumes a block of butter with one meal.  He claims this is the only way for him to maintain a lower weight and stay healthy.

I can believe that someone who has been 'metabolically broken' by past consumption habits may require extreme measures to bring health back into balance.

This is NOT an attack on Jimmy Moore or any other health blogger.  Jimmy does a great job spreading the word about health and nutrition around the world.

My concern is that health bloggers generalise from their particular age/gender/genetics/weath/family status/situation/health problem and suggest approaches that may not be appropriate for others.  I've heard the paleo fitness end of the community dismissing some approaches that are probably very effective for those with athritis or for menopausal women, for example.  I've heard childless low carbers dismiss concerns from parents with children who are conservative in their eating habits.  Some are obsessively focussed on food quality and ignored those on the poverty line, for whom such choices may not be available.  I also hear strident calls for very low carb eating, when this may not suit everyone, particularly those who suffer higher cortisol levels, when ketogenic states stress the body.

Many authors and podcasters in the field (including clinicians) make blanket recommendations without caveats or health warnings.

I've heard a young intelligent former vegan recommend that anaemic vegetarians eat a lot of spinach with fat to boost iron levels.  They do not mention high oxalic acid levels in spinach that bind with metals and make the iron inaccessible.

Vitamin K2 is widely recommended.  I hear no mention of how this supplement may trigger heart palpitations.  High vitamin K2 levels are found in spirulina also.  If someone has pre-existing heart arrhythmia problems, these supplements can trigger an episode (which may be life threatening.)

I consume few cereal grains, though sometimes eat Georgian cheese bread.  I've seen relatives die at an advanced age (90s to 100s) with all their marbles intact, despite consuming some bread in their diet on a regular basis.  I am not arguing that grains are good for everyone.  I'm challenging the notion that diets developed for people with extreme metabolic disorders may be beneficial for all.

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