Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #94: “Eating Clean”

'Carey' is one of the leaders of the hugely popular Lifestyle > Eat-Drink-Man-Woman Forum on the Singapore-based web site. He came to my intention last year when he posted a link to one of my columns, and I had a lot of hits from Singapore. Carey’s first LCHF thread at has had 30,000 replies in 3 parts. Parts 1 and 2 closed when they had reached 10,000 replies. As Part 3 neared 10,000, he started a new thread.  

The new thread is called: “[Fan Club] LCHF Lifestyle.” Carey started it with about 75 LCHF resources, mostly links to low-carb, Paleo, and Primal sites in the US.  I am delighted that he mentioned two of my columns as a LCHF resource for FAQs: #51 “Dietary Cholesterol” (“Very good article on cholesterol”) and #25 “Understanding Your Lipid Profile” (“How to read our cholesterol test but honestly, the conventional test is not very useful”). He’s pretty hip, so I sometimes lurk myself. The problem, for me, is that many of the replies are in Singlish, the colloquial English-based Creole language spoken mostly by the ethnic Chinese population of Singapore, a very cosmopolitan city.

Anyway, this column is about the term “eating clean.” It is a term that is mentioned several times but not succinctly defined. It appears, however, to be the manifesto of all those Singaporeans who subscribe to a LCHF Lifestyle. I like it because it is a positive concept. There is no cultural stigma as there would be if they were to consider eating a diet that is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Never mind that the diet that most of us eat is almost all highly processed foods that have been damaged in manufacturing or preparation. Never mind that it is our high carb, high sugar, high grain, high fructose, high Omega 6 vegetable oil diet that is making us sick!

The conception “eating clean” is, by definition, ridding ourselves of all those toxins and poisons that are part of the Standard American Diet (SAD). “Eating clean” occupies the high ground. “Eating clean” is about eating well – eating good, healthy whole foods without any snarly attributions to cave men. No divisive associations with social causes like saving the planet that have the effect of dividing the population according to their political or other world view.

“Eating clean” is simple in part because it is broad and a bit undefined. It is vague and amorphous and somehow uplifting. It is inclusive, and it has mainstream potential. We are all free to choose what and how we eat. It is thus also about personal liberty. It is liberating. That also means that it is open to interpretation, but that is okay with me so long as there is strong leadership and good guidance, and “carey” provides that. He is very patient, but is quick to respond to and correct his skeptics, often ending an edgy reply with “…hahah.” He has earned the affectionate sobriquet “uncle.”

Another aspect of the movement to “eating clean” that I like is that its precepts are by definition open ended. As the understanding of the science of healthy eating and nutrition evolves, the movement will to adjust to the new science. For example, as we learn more about the how livestock’s diets affect their nutritive value, preferred sources of protein may change. And as the mainstream continues to make its gigantic, slow turn to acceptance of “clean eating” as an alternative to the food pyramid-based SAD, the tide of public health will change. The shift has already begun.

I really miss the “voice” of Kurt Harris, MD, creator of the Archevore Diet, a now inactive web site that I still highly recommend. Some of the favorite things I like about his site are these quotes: “I have had a lifelong interest in science and medicine as culture, and believe all claims to scientific authority should be subject to thoughtful skepticism.” An Archevore is someone who eats based on essential principles, and also someone who hungers for essential principles. Take your pick.”“After hearing Gary Taubes on the radio, I had an epiphany and ever since I've been exploring the field of nutrition through the lenses of medicine and evolutionary biology. It is becoming clear now that many of the diseases afflicting humanity are not a natural part of the aging process, but may be side effects of technological and cultural changes in the way we eat and live that have occurred since the dawn of agriculture roughly 10,000 years ago, and especially in the past few hundred years.”“These changes seem to center largely on the sequential introduction of what I call Neolithic agents of disease - wheat, excess fructose and excess linoleic acid.”

Harris pretty well sums up the new paradigm for me. I have now appended Dr. Harris’s Neolithic Agents of Disease (NADs) to my own LCHF Lifestyle: a meme or manifesto for the West – the Yin to the Singaporean “LCHF Lifestyle” Yang.
Most of “carey’s” followers are ethnic Chinese, and most are young women. The young men seem to me to be as much interested in building muscle and meeting young women, as losing fat. The Eat-Drink-Man-Woman Forum is part of a social network, and the “[Fan Club] LCHF Lifestyle” is a popular venue. Whether the social connection is a sub-text or a pretext doesn’t matter. It is another positive aspect of the LCHF Lifestyle/“eating clean” nexus. I think it’s “brilliant,” as the Brits say. And it clearly is working. Perhaps some entrepreneur out there who reads this blog will see an opportunity to do the same thing “here” (in the West): LCHF on Facebook. Or perhaps someone already has, and I am too ossified to have noticed. Maybe a reader can tell me if we have a LCHF social network Yin to their Yang here in the Western World.

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