Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Nutrition Debate: Interlude, On a Personal Note

I started this column in 2010 at the invitation of the publisher of a small weekly newspaper. Last week, the publisher notified me that “…we probably have done enuf on carbs and fats. We want to move on.” Folks, I’ve been cashiered from the print world. Well, change is good, and I’m ready to move on too.

I am grateful to The Millbrook Independent for publishing the majority of the first 40-odd columns (that became this blog), and for tolerating my low-carb message for as long as they did. It turns out my column was a place-holder for an occasional feature page on Health and Wellness, a much broader category than dietary nutrition, or at least one with a more mainstream view of it. Anyway, I am going to have to change both my Facebook and Twitter profiles, and I thought you (my cadre of blog readers) should be the first to know.

Meanwhile the list of subjects in the nutrition debate that interests me is increasing at an accelerating pace. I am currently eight nine columns ahead of myself in writing, and the list of subjects that I want to write about is increasing at an even more rapid rate. I may have to start editing myself with respect to subject area, as I think one column a week is right for both me and my indispensible online editor, who suggested I blog, and who has a very busy life of her own.

The blog recently crossed the 3,000 hit mark -- a very modest level by today’s standards but nevertheless quite satisfying to me. It also reminds me to be responsible in what I write – I’m talking about people’s health here – things that affect wellness and lifespan. Of course, my readers know that I am not a doctor or a scientist (biologist or other), and that the views I express in my blog are my opinions or those of the doctors and scientists to whom I attribute them.

I see my role as an intermediary – someone between the cutting edge practitioners and researchers/thinkers/bloggers out there who see the nutrition debate from the back (dark) side of the mirror. The upside for me personally is that I stay engaged and motivated 1) to follow the course of action (with respect to diet) that has immeasurably improved my own general health and my specific medical conditions (Type 2 diabetes and hypertension), both associated with my (former) morbid obesity, 2) to continue to take a very strong interest in my own health and what to do about it, and 3) to continue to educate myself, and through this blog others, among them my friends and relatives and now hundreds of total strangers from around the world. I am very grateful to have had, and to continue to have, this opportunity.

The mainstream views are on the reflecting side of the mirror. For a variety of reasons, not least of which is their credibility. (“Gee, folks, I’ve been wrong for all these years. Now, follow me while I change course 180 degrees.”)They are the well-meaning ‘old school’ practitioners who were educated under the influence of the lipid hypothesis and who receive their continuing education from the drug companies (big pharma), and agri-business and the processed food manufacturers, the AHA and the ADA, and big government agencies who fund most of the self-fulfilling ‘research.’ That’s why they get the money. They apply for funding to show the government’s politically derived/influenced position to be right and until the rules were changed in 2005, they only released the results from trials that upheld their views. And they call that science. They are the big stake holders (besides us, the consumer) and they are all vested in the perpetuation of the wrong-headed public health policies that got us into this situation in the first place.

Anyhow, among the subjects you will see in the coming weeks are “How to Treat Heart Disease Risk” (a doctor’s prescription), “Testing for Heart Disease Risk,” “Inflammation and Atherosclerosis,” “The Dietary Causes of Inflammation,” “Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress,” “Dietary Cholesterol,” and “The Thermic Effects of Food.

”After that, subjects that I am interested in writing about includes: “Supplementation,” “A Vitamin Primer,” and “Essential Minerals.” Other subject areas are “Energy Homeostasis Systems,” “Food Reward” and “Hedonistic Eating” as described by Stephan Guyenet in a recent Boing, Boing post. If you can’t wait, check out his “Whole Health Source” blog.

Other things of interest are Ageing, Low Calorie Diets and Lifespan, Small Meals, Pemmican Cupcakes, The Potato Diet, Obese Mother/Malnourished Child, Epigenetics and the 1944 Dutch Famine, and Taste: Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Salty and Savory. If my readers have any suggestions or thoughts, please offer them in the comments section provided after every post. And please also consider becoming a “follower,” or add this blog to your Google Reader or RSS feeds. Thanks.


  1. Dan, I see myself as an intermediary as well. While you're not focused on obesity as I am, I thought you might find this editorial (sorry, login required) by Harry Rutter interesting. It paints a great picture IMO why such a role is valuable:

    "In The Hedgehog and the Fox, Isaiah Berlin describes how “the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. Berlin was writing about literature, but he could just as easily have been describing academia. The world of scientific research favours subject-specific expertise. Most of us tend to focus on fairly narrow specialisms, with both funding and academic career structures promoting this kind of knowledge—we are hedgehogs. For complex issues like obesity the shortage of foxes, with their breadth of knowledge, presents a major obstacle to progress. Notwithstanding some important exceptions, we generally prefer to stay within our own disciplinary boundaries: clinicians tend to promote clinical solutions, nutritionists tend to support dietary ones, and so on. This specialist expertise is crucial, but we also need to understand how the parts all fit together and affect one another, and to be able to step back and see the system as a whole: we need more foxes."

    Who knew at my advanced age that I'd be describing myself as a fox ;).

  2. Thanks, Beth, and thanks also for the link to the Lancet editorial. I liked it. It's also nice to know I have erudite readers and followers out there, like you. I would like to know more about my actual audience as distinguished from my intended audience. Regretably, preaching to the converted is reassuring for all of us, and helps to tweak and the edges and expand the scope of our respective bases of knowledge; however, I am concerned about how to reach those who are looking into the other side (the reflective side) of the mirror. It's a pretty solid barrier. We need to make it more transparent -- like a two-way mirror -- by turning up the light level on our side. It is a complex, rather than complicated, matter and, as Rutter says, it will require an integrated approach. I think we can both play a very small role in that very large universe of endeavor.