A thought provoking mockumentary on our consumerism and mendacious political class.
The HuffPo ask Are All Calories Created Equal? It isn't a bad article and covers the more nuanced ideas behind obesity that you'll have read around these here parts for the past seven years:
- A calorie is a calorie (ACIAC).
- We are not bomb calorimeters.
- A physicist would correctly state calories in vs calories out (CICO) as fundamental to an increase in the mass of the human body. But obesity is a problem of biology, not of maths.
- CICO contains no causal information, it just restates the problem.
Still not convinced? Consider this; we could get two people (unknown to one another and with no contact), to each write a story in any genre they wish - the only constraint being that they use the same number of letters and the story is in English.
The physicist or mathematician could state that the number of letters in each story were identical.
What are the chances these two stories are the same?
A letter is a letter. A word is a word. English is English (notwithstanding dialects and patois). Grammar is grammar. All these statements are true, but this tells us little about the subject of each story.
It's about time this nuance in the story of obesity became mainstream.
A great article on 'Why antibiotics are making us all ill'.
What caught my eye was that finally scientists are looking at many modern ailments as different manifestations of the same underlying cause:
"Why are all of these maladies rapidly rising at the same time across the developed world and spilling over into the developing world as it becomes more westernised? Can it be a mere coincidence? If there are 10 of these modern plagues, are there 10 separate causes? That seems unlikely.
Or could there be one underlying cause fuelling all these parallel increases? A single cause is easier to grasp; it is simpler, more parsimonious. But what cause could be grand enough to encompass asthma, obesity, oesophageal reflux, juvenile diabetes, and allergies to specific foods, among all of the others? Eating too many calories could explain obesity, but not asthma – in which many of the ill children are slim. Air pollution could explain asthma but not food allergy."
A thoughtful read.
The paleospere can pat itself on the back for a job well done in bringing real food back in to fashion - and specifically for yhe rehabilitation of saturated fat, the prodigal son of nutrition.
This WSJ article suggests a victory of sorts is close,
"Saturated fat does not cause heart disease"—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.
The new study's conclusion shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias."
I hope Paleo doesn't blow it by demonising another macronutrient! :)
This healthy diet and lifestyle stuff IS complicated when we try to formalise it in to a set of prescriptive guidelines. We lose the overall view and context whilst unnecessarily complicating things as we try to structure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Imagine trying to describe the act of throwing a dart in to a dartboard using the language of mathematics (such as a programmer might be inclined to do to control a robot arm to perform this task). Sure we would describe vectors, trajectories, torque and so forth, but I assure you the best dart players alive don't use this approach - and would beat the robot every time. For the given effort, humans will beat robots for a long time to come.
So it is with diet and exercise. We were chiselled by the forces of evolution to exploit a broad biological niche. But we stray from those forces at our own peril.
Of course this is most apparent when we move a (non human) wild animal in to a domesticated environment. This is truly novel, animals such as big cats having even less time to adapt to to the industrial age than humans. The damage is often subtle, extensive and pervasive:
"It is pretty striking," says Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization based in New York. "There is a surprisingly high mortality rate of lions in captivity, a lot of which has gone unexplained," he says. This study is a starting point to understanding it, Hunter says, but cautions that more work needs to be done to link the bone malformations seen in the skull collections to neurological disorders.
"The foramen magnum is one of these most important holes in mammalian body," he says. "You can imagine if it were occluded or narrowed – which Saragusty and his colleagues are seeing – that could very well have consequences."
What aspect of growing up in a zoo could cause these malformations? Some have suggested they are linked to a lack of vitamin A, although many zoos add supplements of this to lions' diets.
Another possibility has to do with how lion cubs are fed in zoos. On the savannah, they eat entire carcasses including muscle, organs and everything apart from the largest bones. The act of crunching down on hard bone, says Hunter, builds up muscles that pull and stretch a cub's developing skull in ways that zoo diets don't. He says some of the better zoos will throw in whole donkey or cow legs, but the practice isn't common."
Deindustialise your diet, activity and sleep patterns.
It's very easy to see the importance of species appropriate diets for all other animals except ourselves.
The same goes for dark skies and appropriate light exposure over each and every 24 hour period.
If you're in any doubt about the latter then read this.
Nature on real food and obesity:
"As long as the animal eats the foods that it evolved to consume, this balance is maintained. The trouble comes when it eats a diet with a disproportionate quantity of a particular macronutrient, either because of a lack of appropriate foods in the environment or because its appetite control systems have been fooled or subverted."
Nothing new here, but good to see 'common sense' go mainstream.
The problem with highly processed food is that its familiarity makes it appear harmless.
Check out @wiredscience's Tweet:
In Western Tanzania tribes of wandering foragers called Hadza eat a diet of roots, berries, and game. According to a new study, their guts are home to a microbial community unlike anything that’s been seen before in a modern human population — providing, perhaps, a snapshot of what the human gut microbiome looked like before our ancestors figured out how to farm about 12,000 years ago.
From The Guardian: Songbirds in decline – a tragedy for Britain's culture, as well as its environment:
"...intensive farming methods, especially on arable fields, which have drastically reduced their available food supply of weed seeds;"
The Vegetarian Diet - pushing the killing to where it can't be seen.