City Journal Winter 2016

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Steven Malanga
Egg on Their Faces « Back to Story

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For the history of this travesty against the American people, read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. To regain health, implement the advice in "Eat to Live" by Dr. Fuhrman.
I'm a physician, and I find this timeline is completely bizarre. The shifts in "government" guidelines are perfectly reflective of the scientific consensus at each point in Malanga's curve: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and now the modern era. To blame the guidelines for promulgating what was at the time currently understood nutrition science makes no sense. If you went to your doctor in 1980, he would have told you to depress your egg consumption, just as the public health authorities did. As John Maynard Keynes once remarked, we change our minds as the facts change. What is your point?
I worked for Cornell Nutrition and Health Program and I found your article misguiding, i.e. :(among other facts!)red meat linked to fat?? Meat has fat mainly when it is not lean...advice given by It is with this kind of inaccurate statement that we are not able to have a rational discourse on diet and the obesit epidemic or, as a matter of fact. on any other subject...
It's about time. They've known this since the 1930's. They wonder why kids and people are obese, when they put them on a high carb diet that has bad effects on insulin. The roller coaster ride of blood sugars makes you more hungry, and the more carbs you eat, the more hungry you get, pretty soon diabetes, and eventually heart disease. Remember, these scientists are the ones who said cigarette smoking was good for us. I wonder how much lobby money is going to the FDA from the wheat, corn, potato, and from companies who sell diabetes medications.
The fallacy here is palpable: "Research by Meir Stampfer, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, concludes that diets rich in carbohydrates that are quickly digestible—that is, with a high glycemic index, like potatoes, white rice, and white bread—give people an insulin boost that increases the risk of diabetes and makes them far more likely to contract cardiovascular disease than those who eat moderate amounts of meat and fewer carbs. Though federal guidelines now emphasize eating more fiber-rich carbohydrates, which take longer to digest, the incessant message over the last 30 years to substitute carbs for meat appears to have done significant damage."

First, NO ONE recommends a diet high in simple carbohydrates like white bread, white rice. It is COMPLEX carbohydrates that are recommended---including by the federal government, though you don't need to have it recommended by them.

Then you say "Though federal guidelines now emphasize eating more fiber-rich carbohydrates, which take longer to digest..." It has ALWAYS been thus. The federal guidelines didn't recommend fiber-poor carbohydrates.

And continue: "the incessant message over the last 30 years to substitute carbs for meat appears to have done significant damage." No, it doesn't. You're continuing your misrepresentation of what has been recommended--and its effects. First, no one, again, recommended substituting simple carbs for meat. Second, Americans have NOT substituted carbs for meat.

As for your use of glycemic index: Chocolate cake has a low glycemic index. So does ice cream. So does fructose. So does chocolate milk. M&Ms. What does not? Brown rice. Potatoes. Corn porridge. Carrots. Whole populations have nutritionally thrived on potatoes. Know any that have done well on an ice cream or chocolate cake diet? Glycemic index is nutritionally worthless, as it is a number that is incalculable for what people actually eat, since the combination of an entire meal determines what it will be---with contributions from the fitness of the individual eating.

Americans eat 200 pounds of meat per capita, 9 ounces a day, up 50 pounds per person since 1960--not the 91 pounds that they'd eat if they ate just the four ounces in the study you reference that says "those who eat four ounces of fresh (not processed) red meat every day face no increased risk of heart disease." (Compared to what? That statement is blatantly false.) And Americans don't eat fresh (game) meat with fat less than 15% of calories; they eat processed meats with over half its calories from fat, mostly saturated---and that includes meat labeled "extra lean." Moreover, that does not include their further consumption of high amounts of high-fat and high-cholesterol dairy and egg foods. And half of Americans die of heart disease. Want to pretend it's due to their carb consumption?

The consistent reality of dietary studies like those you cite, which "find" that low-fat diets don't reduce risk, is that they are NOT studies of low-fat diets; they are studies of diets and consumption slightly lower in fat than the extremely high-fat typical American diet. That they find no beneficial effects is not surprising---they don't actually change anything. Americans have long eaten high-fat and high-protein diets, and trimming those down from grotesquely high-fat (which is still the typical American's diet of meat and dairy foundation with everything else cooked in oil or butter) to just obesely high-fat predictably doesn't reduce the risk measurably.

What is not even questionable is that really low-fat, and low-meat, -dairy, and -egg (that is, animal protein and fat) diets, that is vegan or nearly vegan diets, produce nil rates of heart disease. The Framingham study has found that no one with a cholesterol level below 150 has had a heart attack. And you can't get that level eating the diet you are implicitly saying the federal government and nutritionists should recommend---high meat product diets.
When I was diagnosed with "mild" type II diabetes about four years ago my first reaction was to read everything I could find about the disease to figure out why I was the first one in my family to ever receive that diagnosis. My Aha! moment came when I read a book by a physician whose practice is devoted to diabetes patients, who himself has type I diabetes. He is in his 70s and had, by the time he wrote his book, come to the conclusion that fat was not the enemy. The enemy is starchy carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, legumes, etc., and of course, sugar). He explained that when one's saliva mixes with those starches the starch converts to, Ta Da!, sugar. So, I declined medication, stopped eating starches and sugar, embraced meat, dairy, eggs, and green vegetables (except for peas which are, in fact, legumes)and my glucose readings are now normal. My A1C is normal, and I've lost a lot of weight. I came to the conclusion that the Federal food pyramid I taped inside my kitchen cupboard in the 1980s was a croc and probably to blame for my predicament. When I changed my diet my cholesterol and triglycerides went down to normal, too. So, I am a believer;I converted my family doc, too. Thanks for your article amd thanks to the New York Post for printing an adaptation.
Being fatso and live longer are better than going to the grave early. 100 years ago, people live only to about 40 years, give or take 10, but today, with carbo, fat et al., people live to 92 or more, give or take 15 years. So live long and be obesed rather than live short but be slim. Your choice.
This also applies to doctors' and government recommendations to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen 24/7. As a result of that advice, many Americans are Vitamin D deficient, which increases your chance of many types of cancer.

The easiest and most efficient way for your body to get Vitamin D is from the sun.

Nearly everyone should expose their skin to the sun, without sunscreen, for several minutes a day if possible. The amount of time depends on how fair skinned you are. And absent the ability to do that, you should take a Vitamin D3 supplement after having your Vitamin D level tested by your doctor.

We were never meant to live as though we are cave men who never leave the cave. And wearing sunscreen 24/7 is basically doing that.
Imagine waking up one day to read about a shocking discovery in the news - a monstrous conspiracy of epic scope. A terrible crime has been committed against the United States by a foreign power. Sometime during the early 1980's, a cabal of sleeper agents in the United States Department of Agriculture (the easiest government agency to infiltrate) used their influence to institute a set of recommendations and subsidies designed to make Americans as sick and unhealthy as possible.

Through decades of devious scheming they falsified studies, lied to the media, issued health recommendations to stunt the development of the young and induce premature age-related ailments in the old, directed subsidies to farmers who grew the most unhealthy and poisonous foods, forbade the development of new medicines while allowing quack cures, and discredited and de-funded anyone who stood in their way. As a result, millions of people suffered unnecessarily from diabetes, heart disease, indigestion, cancer, hormonal imbalances and a plethora of other ailments. Everything from breakfast cereals to school lunches to fad diets was stuffed with poisons intended to do the very opposite of the health benefits they claimed.

Surely, such a discovery would be met with widespread outrage if not an outright declaration of war.

What if I told that this is precisely what happened, except that the villains in this story are well-meaning bureaucrats, corporations who just wanted to pad their bottom line, and scientists who were willing to twist their conclusions for research grants. None of them desired the kind of health apocalypse they created, but even as the evidence of the damage they were causing was all around them, they suppressed the knowledge and continued the destructive policies. Eventually, the public would catch on and gradually change their ways, but they would do so with a tired cynicism of all health claims. "No one knows what is healthy anyway" most people would conclude, and the deadly policies that created the crisis would continue indefinitely. And yet, the mounting crisis created by this unconscious conspiracy led to a surge of private research that not only proved the government wrong, but uncovered the negative aspects of traditional diets. There are tremendous discoveries available for anyone who wishes to life a healthier life - if only the State would get out of the way.

I have only been a marginal and disinterested observer of these events. I have never read any books or scientific articles on nutrition, much less been very interested by it. But the scientific debate is not what interests me. What is amazing - and horrifying - is how the mere aspect of government intervention - without any evidence of malevolent intent - made an entire country sick.
Well, let's not jump too ugly on carbs either. Almost every diet around the world has at its base some form of carbohydrate and that's been so for thousands of years. Like the guy said, all things in moderation.

People are obese for one reason and one reason only: they consume more calories than they expend. And limiting calorie intake while maintaining a healthy diet requires eliminating most sugary foods high in "empty" calories. Since carbohydrates become sugars in the body, their intake should be limited as well. However, having a piece of bread is hardly the same as having a piece of candy. There are nutrients in that piece of bread.
"So the obesity epidemic and past ills are due to Americans following the USDA guidelines too closely... Ha!

Without much more evidence provided, this argument is grade F bologna."

Because, well you know, the government can never be wrong, nor can liberals. So the article is nonsense. Q.E.D.
Of course, the fact that the Senate committee that created the food pyramid was headed by a wheat state Senator, George McGovern, had nothing to do with it. It was only a well intentioned error.
So the obesity epidemic and past ills are due to Americans following the USDA guidelines too closely... Ha!

Without much more evidence provided, this argument is grade F bologna.
the 100 year comment is good ... don't eat it if it wasn't part of the diet 100 years ago.

with all the man-made additives the USA is eating itself to death
The other item to take into consideration is that no one has a right to tell anyone else what they can consume. Life is not a contest to see who can be the most miserable or live the longest. This is a value judgment that each of us gets to make for ourselves and the government has absolutely no role to play whatsoever.

Perhaps if we could make politicians as liable for their acts as companies are then there would be less of this sort of thing.
This simply illustrates the consequences of any centrally controlled, top down edict from above: nothing works equally well for everybody, and if the edict is wrong, it can harm EVERYBODY indiscriminately. Wake up people! Keep decisions about your health close to home!
As others have suggested . . . read "Good Calories Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes, watch Fathead, and follow the Food Pyramid with one modification . . . flip it upside down.

The cardiology community has come around to believing that most cholesterol problems are genetic, not diet. The internal medicine community is starting to rebel against carbs as contributing to insulin resistance. My internist, who is plugged into the research community at a huge research center advocates moderate carb restriction (less restrictive than Atkins) for his middle aged patients, and as a weight loss regimen. Worked for me. My weight and A1C dropped.
A personal anecdote from an internist:

When I was deployed to Iraq at age 43, I took a fair bit of extra weight along with me. I followed with what could be called a modified paleo diet:

3+ egg omelet with cheese and veggies plus bacon distributed by a guy who must have been paid by the rasher. 1 milk

whatever lean meat was prepared and
fresh veggies to fill up the plate (broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, etc but no lettuce (I don't see the point of lettuce) and an oil-based dressing. Milk or diet coke to drink.

Basically the same as lunch, otherwise stir fry with shredded cabbage substitute for rice and flavored with curry by a guy whose smallest seasoning increment was a "whoosh" of seasoning from an economy size container.

carb-based snack pre-workout

Plus an occasional dessert (I had a weakness for the hot blueberry crumble with ice cream)

Nuts and fruit as needed to fill in the corners.

I experienced increased muscle mass and overall fitness.
I had 25 pounds net weight loss.
(which probably equaled a total of 30+ pounds of fat loss)
My total cholesterol went _down_ from 203 to 160, LDL from 140 to 105, despite eating 4-5x the FDA of cholesterol.

Almost everything the government has told me about diet is wrong. The two biggest determinants of your cholesterol are heredity and whether or not you are overweight. Remember, your liver can synthesize cholesterol. Even vegans have plenty, and in some cases too much of it.
I went to a nutritionist about 10 years ago. She suggested I eat 1,800 calories a day to be healthy/maintain my weight.

At the time I was running three miles a day and walking another two...

At 1,800 a day, even being female I LOST weight. (And was hungry and tired).

I decided they didn't know what the heck they were talking about.
Mr Malanga is right that the government dietary guidelines are not only wrong but possibly dangerous to our health.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes back in March, with no family history of it at all. The culprit is defintiely carbs and as I refuse to go on medication I immediately cut out rice, potatos, pasta, bread, and any other form of refined carbs. My diet is now green vegetables and proteins such as meats and eggs. I don't worry about fats except to the extent I'm watching my Omega 6 to Omega 3 balance. I eat butter and cheese. I also don't worry much about salt, though I don't tend to add it to my food anyway. The result of the change in diet and exercise routine is that in 4 months, I have dropped about 30 pounds (184 to 154 pounds at 5'11") while working out to build lean muscle mass (burns fat) twice a week on weights for about an hour plus yoga for one hour a week and have total cholesterol around 160, blood pressure of around 100-110 over 65-70 and blood glucose that is almost back down into the normal range.

I recommend a couple of books on the subject of eating right: "Real Food, What to Eat and Why" by Nina Planck and "The Schwarzbein Principle" by endoocrinologist Diana Swhwarzbein, MD. I've learned a lot from these two sources and the advicce they give is working for me.
To those that suggested the farmer's market.

I would challenge you to show up a farmer's market about 5:30 am and just watch what happens. Take some coffee and a folding chair and your walking shoes. Around 6, you'll start seeing Sysco, Alliant, US Foodservice and whoever else sells wholesale in your area.

Yes, they are delivering product to many of the "farmers".

Want a self-employed weekend job, rent some space at your local farmers market, set up an account with your local foodservice distributor and have at it.

Some pictures of a farm and a story or two about farming will help.
Read "Good Calories Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes.

Eat moderately of whatever you want, and to blazes with the nannies and their self-anointed experts.
I second Orea's recommendation for the movie Fat Head.
Does anyone take any pronouncement from the government seriously
For more on this topic, watch the movie, "Fathead." Highly recommended, and fun to watch as well as being educational.
Interesting article
The FDA is a public agency and as such is politicized--there are a lot of political appointees. And, if you work for the government, you don't rock the boat. Get a clue--humans have huge molars--gee I wonder what those are for--possibly eating meat? If we evolved as vegetarians, we would have front teeth like rabbits. Eat real food and you'll be fine. Think for yourself--try it-you might like it.
Ah the overwhelming liberal Obama-Clinton-Carter like Federal nosey parkers. Enough. Dems hate freedom for their own nation but sure love it for enemies of America. Liberal Dems just love to restrict and keep in line people with their own biases, substitutes even for religious view whether it is diet, drinks, food choices or the environment. Enough. Americans should have listened to Grandma. Moderation is the answer in most food stuffs.
Eat what agrees with your body and makes you feel good and stay fit. I am not going to eat what the govt. tells me to. They can go to ---. I am mostly a vegetarian type eater and do eat TV dinners when I have to. No sweets or lots of carbs. To each his own.
It is time for the government to get out of our kitchens and our diets. In their pronouncements they have hurt businesses (i.e. egg producers, cranberry growers) to name a few. Also there are so many groups out there touting "health advice" that are linked to political groups how is one to know if the advice is reliable or not. EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY FOR TOMORROW YOU MAY DIE!
Fascinating article. In recent months, we have been reevaluating the Food Pyramid mentality that we were raised on. Today at the grocer's, I bought a gallon of whole (not skim) milk and two dozen free-range eggs. I feel positively revolutionary!
How about this?
Eat food someone has grown or raised.

Eggs from the egg lady, cheese from the goat farmer, tomatoes from the fresh produce family, and meat from the guy who raises grass fed cattle on his spread.... Impossible, you say?

Not quite. Farmers' markets do exist. It takes a little doing, but families will have a lot less trash and a lot less obesity related health issues.

To be as concise as possible, don't buy food in a package with a pretty picture on the front.

Our parents and grandparents managed to feed their families long before the advent of frozen pizza.
I've worked in local public health for 25+ years, along side nutritionists for the Women Infant Children (WIC) federal nutrition program. Few of these nutritionists and few of their "clients" are convincing models of wise eating and activity habits.
I have great-grandchildren,from toddlers on up, who are being raised as strict vegans. Why are there no studies about how their development is affected by such an un-balanced diet? This is a hippie throw-back. Any damage to them will probably be irreversible.
It's about time. I changed my diet to follow gov't suggestions about fifteen years ago. I used to never have high cholesterol and triglycerides. Now I have high of both and and I've carried twenty pounds extra to boot.
I often think of the movie Sleeper when I try to figure out what is healthy to eat. It's hard to know whom to believe, with so much conflicting advice coming from all directions. I've come to rely on my own experience and eat more of what makes me feel better (meats, vegetables, and fats) and less of what makes me feel worse (grains, sugars, and fruits.)
Second try! Let me know if you get either.
Food science is an evolving field! (I don't recall when I last ate eggs.)