I enjoyed your thought-provoking piece but the long two part argument (from
John Coleman?) seemed to finish up running back to simplicities. Almost like
an undergraduate exam essay, where the student, with 10 seconds to go, and
enough cards dumped on the table, finishes quickly by saying "so eat less
When looking at the terrible impacts on the health of indigenous peoples,
and there are a number of references to the South Pacific (there are no
'Great Barrier Reef people' but I suspect that the reference is to a
particular former mission community of Australian aboriginal people) I think
regard has to be had for the undermining of health not just by diet but by
efforts at their overall cultural destruction, loss of land, loss of
lifestyle, loss of identity. The condensed milk and canned fish and other
store goods that seem to have contributed to health decline in the South
Pacific need to be seen in broader context.
I think there are problems associated with the balance of the 'meat' we eat,
in its modern focus on muscle meat, and the general exclusion of offal from
food offered in stores, but I would not try to run on official figures.
According to the WHO, the average person can survive on about 40 grams of
good protein per day, but I understand, second hand, can't cite source, that
according to MIT graduate students, they all lost body protein when they
tested a diet of 40 grams. Protein deficiency is probably the most common
main cause of hypothyroidism, especially when combined with use of the
thyroid antagonistic foods, cabbage-broccoli, beans, unsaturated oils. (One
of the many ways in which those oils are antithyroid is that they neatly
block protein digestion.) So to look at an amount of protein on a kitchen
scale and say 'that's the right amount' is likely to fall short in a normal
diet with foods in combination.
To argue against gelatin and sugar seems a bit naive, especially on the
basis of saying that they are no good because they only contain sugar and
gelatin. Is oxygen bad because it only contains oxygen? Gelatin and sugar,
in modest amounts, are wonderfully supportive for invalids, for good
biological reasons. Arguments in favour of starches rather than simple
sugars are simplistic, ignoring the extent to which the former can create
problems of bacterial endotoxin in the gut, etc. To the extent that the
paper argues for fruit and against grain, this seems good, but the muddle
arises with the tut tut over sugar. Oranges, an exemplary food, if not drunk
from a bottle containing preservatives, contain the simplest of sugars.
Being 'organic' doesn't say much about nutrition, of course, anyway. You can
grow tobacco, opium and coca organically, just like canola, foxgloves,
The issue of junk foods, with all their additives, is something else again.
There was mention of the impact of preservatives on the environment.
Anecdotal evidence from the funeral industry in this country is that bodies
just don't rot like they used to. If oxidation is blocked in dead people, we
should presume that healthy electron transfer processes. The New Scientist
contained an article early in 1998 on the swamp creating effect of sulphur
dioxide on the gut. Even some mineral waters are marketed here with sulphur
dioxide added, no doubt to save money on batch checking for contamination.
So, if we are going to talk about the merits of foods kids like to eat, we
have to look at the fine print too.
I commend Ray Peat's paper on Junk Foods, available at
http://www.efn.org/~raypeat/ , from which I append an extract.
"Years ago, I noticed that Oregon was one of the few states that still had
real whipping cream and cottage cheese without additives, so I have been
trustingly using cream in my coffee every day. Last week, I noticed that my
cream listed carrageenan in its ingredients. Over the years, I have avoided
carrageenan-containing foods such as apple cider, hot dogs, most ice creams
and prepared sauces and jellies, because they caused me to have serious
allergic symptoms. Carrageenan has been found to cause colitis and
anaphylaxis in humans, but it is often present in baby "formulas" and a wide
range of milk products, with the result that many people have come to
believe that it was the milk-product that was responsible for their allergic
symptoms. Because the regulators claim that it is a safe natural substance,
it is very likely that it sometimes appears in foods that don't list it on
the label, for example when it is part of another ingredient. In the 1940s,
carrageenan, a polysaccharide made from a type of seaweed, was recognized as
a dangerous allergen. Since then it has become a standard laboratory
material to use to produce inflammatory tumors (granulomas),
immunodeficiency, arthritis, and other inflammations. It has also become an
increasingly common material in the food industry. Articles are often
written to praise its usefulness and to claim that it doesn't produce cancer
in healthy animals. Its presence in food, like that of the polyester
imitation fat, microcrystalline cellulose, and many other polymers used to
stabilize emulsions or to increase smoothness, is often justified by the
doctrine that these molecules are too large to be absorbed. There are two
points that are deliberately ignored by the food-safety regulators, 1) these
materials can interact dangerously with intestinal bacteria, and 2) they can
be absorbed, in the process called "persorption."
"The sulfites (sodium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, etc.) have been
used as preservatives in foods and drugs for a long time, even though they
were known to cause intense allergic reactions in some people. Fresh
vegetables and fish, dried fruits, ham and other preserved meats, hominy,
pickles, canned vegetables and juices, and wines were commonly treated with
large amounts of the sulfites to prevent darkening and the development of
unpleasant odors. People with asthma were known to be more sensitive than
other people, but the sulfites could cause a fatal asthma-like attack even
in someone who had never had asthma. Even when this was known, drugs used to
treat asthma were preserved with sulfites. Was the information just slow to
reach the people who made the products? No, the manufacturers knew about the
deadly nature of their products, but they kept on selling them. The FDA
didn't answer letters on the subject, and medical magazines such as J.A.M.A.
declined to publish even brief letters seriously discussing the issue.
Obviously, since many people died from what the drug companies called
"paradoxical bronchoconstriction" when they used the products, the drug
companies had to be protected from lawsuits, and the medical magazines and
the government regulators did that through the control of information. I
think a similar situation exists now in relation to the effects of
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