Pyramid Schmyramid – Get the gubmint out of my lunchbox

Posted: June 1, 2011 by socklessjoe in Baconblogging, Funniest End of Civilization Evah, Government FAIL, It's Science!, Lame, Liberal Fascism, Nanny State, Obama's Fault

The USDA dietary recommendations have irritated me for some time.  (I even casually mentioned nutritional science as being untrustworthy in a recent global warmongering post.)  We grow ever fatter as a nation, with a disturbing number of individuals slipping into what is being called “metabolic syndrome” or “syndrome-X”, which is characterized by hyperglycemia/Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, fat around the midsection, a poor cholesterol profile, and high triglycerides.  And yet, Uncle Sam promotes a dietary regimen that probably contributes to our fatass-edness.

An increasing number of studies, including one recently linked at Hot Air, have found that carbohydrate restriction is much more effective in improving various measures of health (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, etc.) than the traditional fat-restricted diet that is still being widely prescribed today.  My own father, who has every symptom of metabolic syndrome listed above (plus the frequently present hyperurecemia, complete with uric acid kidney stones) was prescribed a low fat, low protein diet.  Let me tell ya — it ain’t working.

And yet, the government has stuck with its idiotic “food pyramid”.  I’m not sure which is worse, the original pyramid with all the white flour products listed at the base of the diet, or the completely incomprehensible modified version that fails to convey a clear dietary prescription.  Yes, the USDA is set to release it’s new “Dinner Plate” graphic to replace the pyramid, but just last night (May 30, 2011) I saw a PSA featuring the modified pyramid.  Government work at its finest — sticking with a broken plan well after it has been identified as such.

It’s time for the feds to get out of the diet game.  The science is in a colossal state of flux right now.  I don’t know if the “paleolithic diet” is the right one.  It sounds interesting, though the strawberry krimpet Tastykakes I just polished off suggest I’m not totally committed yet.  Maybe the “Mediterranean” diet is better.  Or, perhaps there’s not just one diet that works for everybody.  Frankly, I think individualization is the wave of the nutritional future.

We already know that health-related variations exist across the rainbow of humanity.  We know that adult lactose tolerance is a relatively recent mutation, most commonly found in those of northern European descent.  We know that about half the Asian population does not metabolize alcohol as efficiently as Caucasians do.  Even certain medicines seem to have varying reactions among people of different races.

The dairy industry is putting its best spin on the new USDA “Dinner Plate” which shoves dairy off to the side.  How about this instead — Maybe if you’re a sub-Saharan African or a Native American you might want to lay off the Gouda if it makes you fart, and if you’re an eighth generation Scandanavian dairy farmer you should eat all the dairy you want (-and wash it down with a beer) and not worry about it.

I’m glad that the new “dinner plate” has less emphasis on grains than the old food pyramid, but half the plate is still composed of grains plus fruits.  That’s a lot of carbs. Should we really be eating so much fruit given the role of fructose in body fat formation and credible speculation that fructose feeds cancer like gasoline on a fire?

Bottom line is that the government has no idea what to tell people even if it was capable of giving us a clear message.  Even if you could make a case that the government should issue some sort of nutritional guidelines, they certainly shouldn’t come from the same cabinet agency charged with managing agribusiness corporate welfare.

  1. MimiR says:

    The idea that adult lactase production is a “mutation” is a myth. Lactase production is as much nurture as nature. Asians raised on Western diets have lactose intolerance at higher levels than Westerners, but much, much lower than Asians raised on Asian diets. After several generations, most of the difference disappears entirely. Mexicans and Indians of pure native decent (who are biologically Asian) have 50% lactose intolerance compared to 95% of East Asians in Asia. OTOH, African Americans, who on average are about half Caucasian in descent, have lactose intolerance at the same levels as Africans in Africa, despite dramatically different genetic makeup. American Blacks, as a group, consume very little milk, so despite the fact that the “mutation” theory would put them halfway between American Anglos and Africans, they’re nowhere near there.

    Diet’s the difference. If you continue consuming milk, your body is less likely to shut off lactase production–do it for a couple of generations, and the entire population shifts away from intolerance.

    My East Asian husband is lactose intolerant. He was raised on a strictly Chinese diet until he was 10 or so. His parents are likewise. My sister-on-law, raised on a Western-influenced diet, is not. This is “impossible” according to the mutation theorists. Just goes to show that confirmation bias abounds….

  2. Sockless Joe says:

    Mimi, I guess I stand at least somewhat corrected on the lactose issue. However, the broader point of individualized diets I think remains. The hardcore Paleo-diet people are against dairy because Paleolithic man didn’t have domesticated animals for dairy production. I, on the other hand, am wiling to consider the possibility that, over the course of 12 to 14 thousand years or so, that a few minor changes might have slipped into the genome, and they might not be evenly distributed around the globe. I don’t think there’s any dispute about the alcohol metabolism variation.

    There’s also evidence that the European population was genetically affected by the Bubonic Plague. Individuals with a certain mutation were more likely to have survived, and the “plague” gene is still to this day more prevalent in those of European descent. I know that’s not a diet issue, but if something so recent as the Black Death has left its mark on our genome then I don’t think it’s too crazy to imagine that a few thousand years of differing diets might not have done the same.

  3. If you’re someone like me that tolerates dairy very well, doing paleo without dairy is very tough, and I’ve never managed for more than a few weeks at a time. Given that we domesticated sheep/goats about the same time as dogs, and prior to fixed agriculture, I think you could easily go back almost 3000 generations on dairy consumption in many populations, about the same as cooking with fire.

    All that said, I’m shocked Monsanto and ADM allowed the grain recommendation to shrink so much. Then again, if you’re eating meat and you didn’t go out of your way to get grass-fed, you’re eating grain (second-hand). It’s also a huge mistake IMO to lump fruits with vegetables for the reasons you state, OTOH, a lot of the best “vegetables” are fruits: peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant are all berries. And the average person lumps starchy tubers and corn in with “vegetable”, which doesn’t work well either.

  4. socklessjoe says:

    I could never be a perfect Paleo – I like pizza way too much for that. I find much of the paleo theory fascinating, but I’m not even remotely approaching a paleo diet at this point. That said, I’ve cut quite a bit of sugar out of my diet (–the aforementioned tastykake excepted), and am making a conscious effort to eat more eggs and nuts (particularly walnuts and almonds), and I’m taking a fish oil supplement. To the extent that grains are unavoidable I’m trying to stick with whole-grains when possible. I was never a big fan of corn, so reducing that isn’t such a big deal. Potatoes on the other hand…

    I’m probably not even at the Mediterranean level of carb restriction, but I’m working in that general direction. I see the genetic writing on the wall every time I look at my dad. Also, given the prevalence of cancer in my family, the fructose connection is more than a little scary.

  5. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know
    a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m
    not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

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