Archive for the 'Food' Category

Another strike for the processed-food industry

Posted in Food, Health on December 1st, 2008

Another day, another study showing that vitamin therapy doesn’t work. From the Guardian:

The notion that antioxidant supplements such as vitamins C and E could slow ageing has been dealt a blow by a scientific study showing that the theory behind the advice is wrong.

Beloved of health food shops and glossy magazines alike, antioxidants have long been peddled as preventative pills that have the ability to slow ageing and protect against diseases such as cancer. But the research has shown that the molecular mechanism proposed to explain how they work is mistaken.

Is this really a surprise? I know that there are desperate people out there who want a super-pill that will make them healthy and live forever, despite all the crap they routinely consume. And there sure is a huge industry that exists to try and sell it to them. But guess what? We are so far from understanding the nuances of how the human body works and how it processes nutrients (both macro and micro) that anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to make a buck. Food and vitamin companies do not you want to be healthy, they want you to spend more money.

Again, there is a simple solution. Eat in moderation. Eat whole foods. Limit your consumption of products from the agri-industrial complex: buy organic, but even more so, buy local. Eat foods that are raised the way nature intended them–grass-fed cattle for example. And remember that no one who has a quarterly EPS to meet has your best interests in mind.

Vitamins don’t work

Posted in Food, Health, Life on March 1st, 2007

Researchers today released results from a study that analyzed 68 other studies and came to the conclusion that taking individual vitamins does nothing to improve health. It’s not a surprising result, but it is another interesting case of the intersection of two things in my life.

I also just finished reading The China Study, which is a summary of the health survey that T Colin Campbell did in China, analyzing the effect of diet on health. The results of Campbell’s findings can simply be summarized as eating a whole foods diet rich in vegetables with no or almost no animal protein guarantees a healthier and longer life.

One of the thing that Campbell argues against in his book is the tendency for Western medicine and the Western health industry to fixate on single-nutrient solutions to health problems. The impetus for much of this seems to come from studies that focus on food. For example, a study that shows that people who eat a diet that is rich in Vitamin A have lower levels of free radicals leads the health industry to stock shelves with Vitamin A supplements that promise to reduce your free radical levels. But, Campbell argues, this sort of science by reduction doesn’t work. We have no idea of how different nutrients interact inside the body and while is might seem that diets high in Vitamin A have more protection from free radicals, it maybe that the Vitamin A is only effective when it is consumed in concert with a host of other nutrients that are included in foods high in Vitamin A.

This sort of reductionist nutrition is highly popular here in America, because it allows people to continue maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle while feeling like they are doing things to be more healthy. Everyone wants the latest miracle supplement that will allow them to continue consuming foods high in saturated-fat, animal protein, refined grains, and cholesterol but suffer no ill effects. And the health industry has built a billion dollar industry on the back of people looking to spend their way out of making healthy-positive choices.

And now this study comes out and confirms everything that Campbell was arguing in his book. Vitamin supplements do not work. You’re not going to get the benefits of Vitamin A unless you eat a diet that is naturally high in Vitamin A. The secret to good health that Campbell confides in his book and which this study bolsters is simple: eat unprocessed plant foods.