The Health Corner Vol. 27 – Common Fallacies Concerning Nutrition II
The last time I wrote, I began to address some misconceptions commonly held in America concerning diet. I would like to continue discussing these now. As you might recall, we had just finished looking at the consumption of milk and the problems that might cause us.
Closely related to the milk debate is a fallacy involving the use of calcium and vitamin D to rebuild bone structure. Although calcium and vitamin D are involved in this process, unfortunately most of the calcium supplements that are used today are derived from calcium carbonate, limestone, or oyster shells … types of calcium that are inorganically formed, and as such not viable. A healthful calcium, like an organically bound calcium, as is found in green leafy vegetables, is going to be much more beneficial for bone growth.
Another fallacy I wish to debunk is in regards to the use of antacids for stomach disorders. Although there are times when antacids can be of great benefit, those times are few. Most people that suffer from stomach disorders suffer from a low acid content in the stomach as opposed to a high acid content, as is commonly thought. The common digestive medications all operate on the principle that stomach acid needs to be reduced. But, in truth, this is not always beneficial. It is far better to find and treat the real cause of the problem in the long run.
Another common myth is one regarding the thought that cholesterol causes heart damage or heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), etc. In actuality, cholesterol is an innocent bystander used in the rebuilding of arterial wall damage caused by the inflammatory process. In fact, in Scientific American just a few years ago, inflammation was identified as the primary problem causing vascular damage or vascular breakdown. Until we start addressing this issue, which is largely a sugar driven and high pro inflammatory eicosanoid issue caused by an imbalance of the omega 3/omega 6 ratio, people will continue to develop cardiovascular damage. Trying to correct so-called ‘high’ cholesterol instead of going after the source of the problem is not productive and could actually cause more harm instead.
Another common false diet tenet is that we should eat several servings of grain per day. It’s very interesting that there are at least six different problems with our use of grains. This issue is so important that I have an article solely dedicated to this subject alone.
One problem that is cropping up more and more is gluten sensitivity. Fully 12-18% of the population is considered to be sensitive to glutens or gliadins, which are protein complexes found in grains. This sensitivity arises from the constant abuse of grains, which is encouraged by the reliance upon the faulty food pyramid concept. The truth is that 7-11 servings of grain per day are way too much. And this puts us at great risk of digestive tract damage and other consequent effects as the systems in the body begin to break down from grains overconsumption.
One of the most pervasive diet fallacies is in regards to high carbohydrate, low fat diets. It is commonly held in the mainstream medical community that this diet will make one healthy. This has been propounded for the last fifty or sixty years, in fact. A book called Good Calories, Bad Calories shows how the high carbohydrate, low fat diet became popularized. Data, based on presuppositions rather than scientific results, was put forth in mainstream medical teaching that high carb/low fat diets were best. This faulty idea was put forth again and again and eventually became the accepted dogma. Unfortunately, this is contrary to what the actual evidence in scientific investigation has revealed. As a result, we have the misconception that high carb, low fat diets are healthy though this has proven over the years not to be correct.
This brings us to the last diet myth I wish to address. It is an amazing piece of information concerning high fiber diets and diverticulitis. It is commonly accepted that a patient diagnosed with diverticulitis is sick because of eating too much fiber. But this is not so. Once somebody develops diverticulitis, a high fiber diets can stimulate the syndrome, this is true. But fiber high or otherwise has nothing do with the initiation or onset of the problem. It’s just that the colon at that point in time has become so compromised that it can’t handle the effective cleaning that the fiber does. The colon becomes very sensitive and inflamed and anything that causes irritation to it is going to make it flare. The real reason people have so much trouble digestively is because Americans are eating all of this artificially produced fiber rather then the natural fiber that is found primarily in fresh vegetables and nondigestible carbohydrates.
Did any of the assertions I have made on diet in the last two articles surprise you? I would be shocked if they did not, as the American public has been subjected to these common fallacies over and over again. One of the most common things I hear in my office, especially with a new patient is, ‘I already eat a healthy diet, Doctor’. But when I work a bit more with the patient and show them some of the true principles of diet, as they really are, many of my patients begin to see that what mainstream science and medicine is preaching is just not correct. I hope you will feel free to research my assertions on your own. Or, perhaps you will want to call and make an appointment and start your own adventure in nutrition and health.
Until then, here’s to your good health.
Dr. Jon R. Link