Professional people that compile the science of our lives are in the end just people like we are. As people they tend to maintain their biases and prejudices. They like their work and they grow attached to the things they have created. Nobody likes to be wrong.
When writing about scientific progress, one of the greatest physicists, Max Planck wrote in 1950, “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning.” If you consider the history that you know, this sentence rings with truth. The FACT that you know the Earth to be round and that it orbits the sun is due in large part to two things. A brave scientist spread the idea, and the powerful detractors of that idea eventually died off. The new people in the world, having no existing bias against the truth were free to embrace that and move on.
We live in such a time with regards to dietary science. In the late 1950’s there grew up a body of work suggesting that diets that contained fats and cholesterols would lead to a body loaded with fat and cholesterol. Heart attack and stroke were blamed on the ‘fact’ that if you ate fat you got fat. In your veins the fat would plate out, on your hips the fat would build up. I was born in this time period, when the scientific world was just getting warmed up to this notion. To me it always seemed too simple.
Years later I was watching the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil“, a true story, and the protagonist, Augusto Odone, was a diplomat in the US when his son was struck ill by a disease that was causing him to become paralyzed. Odone researched the illness himself when western medicine would not. His doctors had him cut all oils out of Lorenzo’s diet, to keep his body from manufacturing too much of a certain type of cholesterol. Odone found out that actually Lorenzo needed to eat more oil in his diet, his body was CREATING oils that it needed, and denying oil actually made this process worse. I write all of this because it pointed out to me that science is the accumulation of knowledge, and answers are suggested by facts and study. The idea of cutting fats from the diet to control body fat sounds simple. That conclusion seems natural. Its just wrong.
In my world there was increasing activity at the grocery store to capitalize on the low fat science. Low fat milk took a product that has been safely consumed for as many years as the cow has been domesticated and removed some fat, replacing it with sugar. Just about every product where fat is removed, the fat is replaced with sugar. For decades now we Americans are consumed with the idea that eating less fat would reduce our body fat, not realizing that we are eating more sugar in the process. It comes as no surprise to me that by now two out of three of us is overweight, and that the epidemic has spread to our children in grade school. Knowing that a serving of low fat chocolate milk contains the same amount of sugar as three Snickers bars should be an eye opener. Here is a case study by two British twins, one living in the US and one the UK. Any healthy food, like yogurt, can be turned into poison if you put enough sugar in it, like GoGurt.
Yet, despite the facts and dangers caused by our previous science, there are scientists willing to argue that the ‘new’ ideas about fats and carbohydrates are coming from incomplete data or flawed science. This will continue until these scientists are all dead, if history is any guide. They will continue to support the ideas that they are credited with. They will continue to skew arguments and data toward low fat and low cholesterol. History will wait them out. In time it won’t matter if their beliefs are theirs or due to where their funding comes from.
We need not wait for the science to come in. Right now we can stop eating anything in a box. We can stop eating anything that has a health claim on it’s label. We can prove to ourselves by losing weight while eating lard and butter that the idea that eating fat makes fat is to easy to be true. Your diet is yours. Your habits are yours.