Multiple Themes

This morning I read on Nina Teicholz’s book website, “TheBigFat”, a complete blow-by-blow takedown of the advice that Doctor Dean Ornish put forth in his New York Times op-ed from about a month ago. At that time I had written my own critique of Dr Ornish’s points, which you can read here…“Doctor”.

What Nina does is what she does best, analyze the scientific studies that Ornish cites and then report on the confounding evidence and the hasty conclusions that are arrived at by doctors like Ornish, who are trying to prove a point more than they are trying to advance a hypothesis. For instance:

This is a quote from Dr Ornish’s op-ed:

A study published last March found a 75 percent increase in premature deaths from all causes, and a 400 percent increase in deaths from cancer and Type 2 diabetes, among heavy consumers of animal protein under the age of 65 — those who got 20 percent or more of their calories from animal protein.

And Teicholz rebuts in this way:

It’s somewhat embarrassing that Ornish would cite this study. The finding above is an association calculated in a highly flawed manner, as analyzed in thorough detail by Zoe Harcombe here. Moreover, the paper was written by an owner and three employees of a plant-based diet company named L-Nutra, which was very likely biased the outcome.

The study Ornish cited was written by the owner and three employees of a plant-based diet company. Here is the thing. Doctor Ornish knows that you, the reader of his NYT piece will not look up the evidence he cites. He knows that most of you will leave that piece thinking that you should eat less meat, and maybe go buy an Ornish diet book. He may well believe what he is saying, there may not be a profit motive, but cherry-picking evidence, no matter how flimsy, if it supports your hypothesis and rejecting all evidence that confounds it is a hallmark characteristic of PSEUDOSCIENCE. My bet is that Dr Ornish has a staff of ‘researchers’ that are always on the prowl for any evidence that supports the boss. He doesn’t read or evaluate the evidence himself.

Dr Ornish’s piece is full from one end to the other of this sort of logical error. Read the work of Teicholz and click through one or two of her links to actual evidence to verify what she is reporting. After doing so you will, like me, realize that there is no evidence condemning meat or saturated fats. There is no health-based reason that a person would avoid eating meats, and change the basis of their diet to fruits and vegetables. There are other reasons, but none of them is that you will hurt yourself eating meats.

Ornish claims–

When fat calories were carefully controlled, patients lost 67 percent more body fat than when carbohydrates were controlled.

Teicholz analyzes–

This is an unpublished study on 19 men, lasting only 6-7 days, on an experimental diet so low in fat (7-8%) that is has virtually no comparison in human history. Again, one must ask: why is Ornish citing such obscure, speculative and even unpublished data for his argument? After so many years of studying the low-fat diet, don’t we have better data? Of course we do. There have been many tests of the low-fat diet on tens of thousands of people, but their findings do not support the hypothesis that this diet helps people lose a significant amount of weight. In head-to-head diet trials, the low-fat diet nearly always performs the worst.

This back and forth between competing studies is how tobacco escaped any serious challenge to its “cigarettes are good for you” argument that they hid behind for years. I say this–look around. Use your own eyes. We have all been on a diet pressed upon us by industry for many decades. Low fat foods and cooking oils and shortening were invented so that we could all get off of saturated fats. Industry has invented veggie burgers and tofu burgers and other ways you could replace meats. We have all been on diets because we were getting fat. We all know that nothing works to reduce the weight. We all know someone who has type 2 diabetes. Some of us even know grade school children who are suffering from “adult onset diabetes”. Both of my parents had heart attacks and had to have their coronary plumbing repaired. The fact is that none of these trends are getting better, even though it’s hard to find a saturated fat to cook with, or that meat costs ten dollars per pound these days. The trend for eating ‘bad’ foods is down and going down, yet two out of three of us are overweight. One out of three of us is obese. Babies are getting Fatty Liver disease and getting liver replacements. Trying to eat low-fat Is THE PROBLEM. You shouldn’t wait for the science to be definite. You need to quit eating carbohydrates at every meal now.

Ancient man (before long distance refrigerated trucking) could not eat fruit at every meal. No orange juice for breakfast every day on any table before the turn of the century in the US. Our healthy pioneer kin could only eat foods from the ground on which they lived. They could keep some things in root cellars for a while, but nothing lasts from growing season to growing season. They had to ferment foods so that they would keep. Every bite they took was a food that was teeming with life. Bacteria, natural vinegars, cheeses were all providing real life to them. The soil the food was grown on was all natural. Nobody knows what kind of difference that it makes inside the human body to eat foods that are living a natural life compared to those eating an artificial industrially produced life. It would be idiotic though to assume that the artificial, processed food is the equivalent.

I don’t care what the science is doing now. I understand that the government has backed off it’s caution against saturated fats for health reasons. That is good, but it does not persuade me. What does persuade me is my own experience. I am eating meats and fats, and I have cut my carbohydrate consumption to the minimum, and I am FAR healthier than I was previously. I am far more alert, my nerves are better, I can do more detail work without a tremble. I am harder to anger. I am not hungry between meals.

I can go on and on. I could write 500 more words on my own personal benefits from eating meats and saturated fats.

However, I will just give you a bit of free advice.

Stop eating artificial foods. If it is in a bag or box, if there is a health claim on the label, do not buy it. Find someplace to get meat that allows the animals to eat their natural forage for their entire lives. Get eggs from birds that can eat grass and bugs. If you can’t get natural meats, industrial meats are still better than dead foods. You can’t put enough vitamins in a breakfast cereal to make it as healthy as a plate of bacon and eggs.

Whole Foods is recalling raw macadamia nuts from California. These macadamia nuts are tainted with Salmonella. From the CDC:

Every year, Salmonella is estimated to cause one million illnesses in the United States, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths . Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

People should wash their hands after contact with animal feces. Because reptiles are particularly likely to have Salmonella, and it can contaminate their skin, everyone should immediately wash their hands after handling reptiles. Reptiles (including turtles) are not appropriate pets for small children and should not be in the same house as an infant. Salmonella carried in the intestines of chicks and ducklings contaminates their environment and the entire surface of the animal. Children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds. Children should not handle baby chicks or other young birds. Everyone should immediately wash their hands after touching birds, including baby chicks and ducklings, or their environment.

See where salmonella comes from? It comes from animal feces. Somehow these macadamia nuts were smeared with feces. Lots of weird things are smeared with feces every year. One year it was all the spinach at all the stores, it caused a shortage. Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts get recalled a lot.

I think the point I am trying to make is “Eat local foods”. While it is possible to get salmonella just from holding a pet chicken, or stroking a pet lizard, it is not terribly likely that you will get it from your farmer’s market salad fixings. Your local meat locker is not going to be as likely to contaminate your hamburger, because they are not processing one thousand animals per hour. It is easy to spread shit on your food if you are in a big hurry.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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