Sandy L. asks:
Nutrition advice. What is real. I find it hilarious that eggs and coconut oil were such villains in the 90s and now they are “the perfect food”. I bought an old cookbook a few months back and it was talking about avoiding coconut oil. It made me laugh.
Now fat is okay but sugar is bad.
First, a tiny rant from #1, “In which research on “nutrition” is nonsense.”:
#2: People underestimate how much they eat?
#1: People write articles based on stupid, meaningless data and then use those articles to influence policy recommendations.
#2: The nhanes is the best information we have for a lot of things.
#1: It’s true. But the nutrition stuff is messed up. When asked how they eat, people misreport. Then the researchers convert the amount of various foods into calorie amounts, using incorrect databases that are filled with wrong info. Then they change methodology. Then reports are based on those data…
Most of the nutrition database info (about how many calories are in the reported food intake) hasn’t been actually checked scientifically.
For example, on the plane I had some beef. What cut was it? I have no idea. But different cuts of beef can have TWICE as much kcal as another cut. Which one do they write down? it’s kind of random!
It’s a good thing our policy is so coherent… oh wait…
#2 notes that you may be interested in reading this article about the history behind sugar and nutrition . A bunch of people in high school had/got to read a book about the vast Sugar conspiracy for their world history class at our high school back in the 1990s. It had some pretty horrifying stuff in it about sugar and tea and trade. The capitalist conspiracy is ancient and vast! The sugar dynasty is powerful and has been for centuries.
But…. there’s also non-political-economy reasons we don’t know a ton about nutrition. The first is that nutrition is incredibly complex and there’s a lot of heterogeneity so it’s just hard to tease things out. Generally, we start with looking at correlational evidence from places like the Framingham nurse’s study. Those correlations provide headlines about eggs being bad when it may actually be the nitrates from bacon (eaten with eggs) or a million other things. But correlations are a good place to start when you’re trying to figure out how things work because it narrows down the testing frame. Then after correlational studies we can move into animal trials or human trials. Generally that’s when things don’t pan out– there really wasn’t anything wrong with eggs, so randomized controlled trials failed to find anything wrong with eating eggs. There was correlation but not causation.
What is real? Who knows! It seems likely that eating whole grains and unprocessed food and getting fiber and nutrients is a good thing. But maybe not for everyone and maybe not to extremes. I’m interested in seeing where all the research on gut flora ends up going. (And, TBH, I’m really interested in getting better smelling underarm flora…) Should you drink milk or eat meat? Who knows! Me, I generally listen to what I’m craving and pay attention to how I feel after. That doesn’t always steer me right– sometimes I lose my ability to comfortably digest say, beef or raw veggies and that ability has to be rebuilt, but it’s the best idea I’ve got.