Health & Nutrition: Whom To Trust?

I unwittingly mentioned to Girl 2’s allergist that Pat and I don’t eat gluten.  She looked at me like I had two heads.

“That is a 4 billion dollar industry,” she said accusingly, implying that I had fallen for the hype.  (“And wheat is probably a 400 billion dollar industry,” I wanted to retort, but didn’t.)   I mentioned that my husband has lost weight this way.  “Well yes,” she cut in, “cutting out gluten reduces calories.”

Well, what I meant was, he’s lost weight without any discernable reduction in overall calories.  I know that cutting out gluten-containing foods, without making up for the lost calories elsewhere, would cause weight loss.

Apparently I had my “STUPID” sign on my forehead that day, because that’s how she was treating me.

But I really don’t care what she thinks and I didn’t want to discuss Pat’s and my diet, anyway.  We were there for allergy testing for Girl 2.  (She came back “very slightly positive” for a multitude of foods, including chicken.  Chicken!  Who’s allergic to chicken??  The doc said not to treat the results as true positives and to keep feeding her as normal.  Clear as mud, as my dad likes to say.)

But the conversation got me thinking about this Perfect Health Diet experiment we’ve been on, and other alternative nutrition/ natural remedy type things I’ve been trying.  If you read enough from that non-mainstream point of view, you start thinking it’s normal.   Then, *bam* mainstream hits you in the face.

I’ve always been more of a mainstream kind of gal, when it comes to health and nutrition.  So how did I jump on this crazy train, anyway?

I guess my point of departure was the sugar craving and overeating problem I’ve had for forever.  Jennifer’s experience was so positive, it seemed worth a try.  And the Perfect Health Diet book and related nutrition authorities like Weston A. Price, etc. seem to make sense.  They address issues that mainstream nutrition authorities leave unanswered.

For instance, humanity has been eating eggs for millions of years, until we “discovered” in the 1980s (or whenever it was)

Butter and a butter knife

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that they’re bad for you.  Then we “discovered” in the 2000s that they’re good for us after all.  Or trans fat: decades ago the common belief was that margarine and other partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were healthier than butter and lard.  Now, it turns out, the trans fat contained in those items is really bad and we were better off with butter and lard.

Maybe it makes sense to just eat eggs.  And cream, and butter, and steak.  Americans started getting so obese after we were told to stop eating this stuff that people have eaten for forever.  (Of course, people have been eating wheat for a heckuva long time, too, which is why I’m not a firm believer . . . yet . . . in the anti-gluten aspect of our diet.)

Not being a scientist, though, I feel like either “side,” so to speak, could be pulling the wool over my eyes.  For example, Perfect Health Diet et al. speak of the “lipid hypothesis.”   They pretty convincingly argue that the supposed connection between saturated fat and heart disease (and related ailments) is unfounded.  But I feel like the mainstreamers, the proponents of the “lipid hypothesis,” could argue just as convincingly (like this, perhaps).  I’ve yet to see a good side-by-side comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each position.

Scientific data are so easily manipulated to support one position or another.  Scientific studies themselves only prove so much.  And I have neither the ability nor the patience to read the scholarly literature myself.  So most of us read a few books or articles written for laymen (“secondary sources,” if you will), and decide to toss our hat into one ring or another.

And as I buy gluten-free products for my family–none of whom has a discernible sensitivity to gluten–and toss back gaggingly large handful of supplements every day . . . I start to second guess tossing my hat into the non-mainstream ring.

IMG_4612

Or course, a lot of what we’re doing (or at least trying to do), is what everyone agrees is healthier: avoiding processed foods, avoiding sugar, eating more vegetables.  But choosing coconut oil over canola?  Ribeye steak over chicken breast?  White potatoes over whole wheat?  Cream over skim milk?  Sometimes it feels right to me, sometimes it doesn’t.  And with different authorities saying different things, all I’m really left to go by is my gut instinct.

For now my gut tells me, “So far, so good.”  I haven’t seen any drastic improvement in my health.  But Pat’s lost weight, and my sugar/ food issues are better, if not gone.  I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but soon we’ll schedule our yearly physicals.  Depending on how our blood work looks, we’ll reassess.

Until then . . . I’m enjoying all the butter.  😉

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